Four days of marathon meetings by the Interior Ministry and the Jerusalem
Municipality’s planning committees, which began on Monday, are expected to
advance approvals for almost 6,500 apartments over the pre-1967 Green
After spending nearly three years in limbo for causing a major
diplomatic crisis between the US and Israel, the 1,500 apartment units in the
Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo received final approval from the Interior
Ministry on Monday. This means construction can begin in the coming
On Tuesday, the District Planning and Construction Committee will
discuss stages B and C of Givat Hamatos, a new Jewish neighborhood located next
to Beit Safafa. Stages B and C have a combined 1,363 apartment units.
Wednesday, the Local Committee is expected to grant final approval to stage A of
Givat Hamatos, with 2,610 units. On Thursday, the District Committee is expected
to give final approval to the Slopes of Gilo South, with approximately 1,000
“The approval of this program is an important and
positive step for the Interior Ministry, in order to improve the housing issue
while simultaneously strengthening Jerusalem,” said Shas Interior Minister Eli
The Palestinian Authority is planning to file a complaint against
Israel with the UN Security Council over the new project.
Rudaineh, spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said the decision was a
blatant challenge to the international community and a disregard for the
feelings of the Palestinian people and Arab nations. Abu Rudaineh said the
decision would further isolate Israel after the world rejected “occupation” and
recognized the Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders.
Yair Gabai (Likud), who sits on both the local and district committees, also
welcomed the wave of approvals.
“Prime Minister [Binyamin Netanyahu]
stopped the discussion of these projects due to outside pressure from so many
places,” Gabai said. “The moment Palestinians went to the UN and went unilaterally, the prime minister
gave a green light to do all [of the building in east Jerusalem]. Everything was
ready years ago, we were just waiting for a green light.”
left-wing activist Danny Seidemann put it bluntly: “Netanyahu is hemorrhaging
settlements,” he said. “This is not tactical maneuvering – it’s a strategic
“This is Netanyahu going to an end-game with massive settlement
activity that will determine the borders of Jerusalem as he sees it,” said
Seidemann. “By all empirical standards, never, ever, since 1967, has there been
such a frenzy of settlement activity as there has been over the past month, and
one is only beginning now to see the full thrust of this.”
one of the “ring neighborhoods” which include Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Gilo and East
Talpiot, is located over the pre-1967 Green Line, and left-wing leaders consider
construction there to be controversial before a final-status agreement is
Ramat Shlomo gained notoriety as part of the “Biden Fiasco,”
when the project was approved for deposit during the US vice president’s visit
to Israel in March 2010. Biden considered the partial approval a personal
Following the incident, the Prime Minister’s Office instituted
“increased mechanisms” to ensure the office is involved and updated on all east
Jerusalem building projects.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to
respond to questions over the large wave of approvals.
are being done by relevant bodies,” said an official in the Prime Minister’s
Office, who acknowledged that since the Biden incident it is much more involved
in east Jerusalem construction. “This is the normal procedural
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said she was
unaware of the latest settlement plans. But she stressed that “our policy on
settlements remains unchanged and we make our views known to the Israelis at
The US has long opposed settlement construction and
other moves it sees as unilateral and not helpful in forming an Israeli-
Palestinian peace deal.
She added, “We have to continue to keep trying.
We have to continue to work with both sides to encourage them to avoid
provocation, to create an atmosphere conducive to peace.”Hilary Leila
Krieger and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.