Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhoood .
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Less than 48 hours after Donald Trump was sworn in as US president, the Jerusalem Municipality’s Local Planning and Building Committee on Sunday approved hundreds of Jewish housing units beyond the 1949 Armistice Line.
Housing approvals over the Green Line were previously largely shelved amid heightened tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, which were further exacerbated by the recent UN resolution condemning construction in settlements and in eastern Jerusalem.
Deeming the resolution further evidence that the UN is fundamentally biased against Israel, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat issued a blistering statement against the ruling, and rebuked the Obama administration
for abstaining, and pressuring Israel to cease construction.
Moreover, on Thursday the mayor emailed a brief video, accompanied by a letter of support for Trump to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and accused Obama of “surrendering to the Iranians and radical Islam,” and for “abandoning Israel.”
On Sunday, the municipal construction committee approved 566 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev, as well as 49 units in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina; 14 in Wadi Joz; 24 in Umm Lison and Umm Tuba; 7 in Jebl Mukaber; 4 in Beit Safafa; 3 in Sur Bahir; and 4 in a-Tur.
In stunning rebuke against Obama, Barkat urges Israelis to support Trump
Shortly after the approvals were announced, Barkat issued a brief statement to declare the end of US intervention in the capital’s construction.
“We went through eight difficult years of Obama’s pressure to freeze construction... and often delayed marketing apartments because of pressure from the US,” Barkat said. “We will continue to build and develop the city for all residents – Jews and Arabs alike – to strengthen its sovereignty over a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and to provide solutions for young couples. It is the right thing to do.”
Additionally, the municipality’s District Zoning Committee is expected to discuss approval of 5,600 more residential units in Gilo, Ramot and Givat Hamatos when it meets on Wednesday.
Anat Ben Nun, director of development and external relations at Peace Now, said the announcement – coupled with Trump’s staunchly pro-Israel administration – may endanger a two-state solution.
“The change of administration in the United States does not change the fact that Israeli construction in east Jerusalem remains problematic until a political agreement is reached,” Ben Nun said. “The current right-wing celebrations are endangering the possibility of arriving at a twostate solution in the future.”