(IsraelNN.com) The government has approved construction of more than a thousand new housing units in the Jerusalem suburb of Maaleh Adumim and the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa.
[This is contradicted by, Olmert halts Har Homa tender, but ministers say capital building won’t stop]
A furor was raised over a ten-year-old housing project for Har Homa that received its final permits this month for construction of 307 new apartments.
The Palestinian Authority has claimed that the neighborhood belongs to the section of Jerusalem it plans to use for the capital of the new state it assumes it will build in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas made frantic calls to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice immediately after the plan’s approval was announced, asking her to force Israel to quit the project.
The 2008 budget allocation, which includes 500 new apartments, comes in addition to the 307 units already approved. Maaleh Adumim will receive an additional 240 apartments under the plan as well.
A shortage of apartments in the Jerusalem area has driven housing prices very high over the past three years.
Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Rafi Eitan (Pensioners’ party) appeared unruffled by the Arabs’ opposition to the building of apartments in Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods. “No promise was ever given to anyone that we wouldn’t continue to build in Har Homa,” he told Voice of Israel government radio on Sunday, “because it’s within the municipal borders of Jerusalem.” The area was formally annexed to the Jewish State after it was liberated from Jordanian occupation in the 1967 Six Day War.
Eitan pointed out that Maaleh Adumim also falls into that category. Both neighborhoods are located in the part of Jerusalem that was reunited with the rest of the capital in the 1967 Six Day War.
Radical left Peace Now director-general Yariv Oppenheimer immediately condemned the plan, bitterly commenting that the move would “trip up diplomatic negotiations (between Israel and the PA) before they’ve begun. Despite the government’s declarations that it would freeze construction, the 2008 budget proves that things will look different on the ground.”
A week before the Annapolis conference, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to freeze all new construction of new communities in Judea and Samaria and dismantle existing “illegal outposts”, including those which are in some cases expansions within the municipal boundaries of existing communities. Jerusalem was not included in that agreement.