'Another 7,000 homes planned'

Peace Now: Many new housing units planned in predominately Arab neighborhoods.

By ABE SELIG
March 11, 2010 03:55
3 minute read.
A Palestinian worker stands guard in front of hous

ramat shlomo construction east jerusalem 311. (photo credit: AP)

While international condemnations continued to pour in on Wednesday night regarding the Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Commission’s approval of 1,600 new housing units in the northeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo,  some 18 plans, calling for more than 7,000 new homes in other parts of east Jerusalem, are at different stages of processing by the same committee, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

According to Peace Now, which sent out a detailed report on Wednesday night featuring the information, plans to build thousands of new housing units in existing Jerusalem neighborhoods over the Green Line such as Neveh Yaakov, Har Homa, Pisgat Ze’ev, Gilo, and Givat Hamatos are currently in the works, as are plans to build in new areas, some of which are in predominately Arab neighborhoods of the city.

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The report states that six of the plans, including those in Ramat Shlomo, had already been approved by the committee but that five have yet to be announced.

Nine of the plans, including the construction of Jewish housing in predominately Palestinian neighborhoods like Jebl Mukaber and Silwan, are in the early stages of processing, according to the report, and are still awaiting initial deliberation by the commission.

One of the plans, which calls for the construction of more than 500 housing units in Givat Hamatos, which sits opposite Beit Safafa, is pending an additional hearing after objections were filed by the public.

Another three plans, for more than 3,000 housing units in Givat Hamatos, are awaiting final validation by the committee, and would be announced after that validation is given, the report states,

City Councilman Yair Gabbay, who together with councilmen Meir Turgeman and Yossi Deitch represents the municipality on the Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Commission, responded to the report, saying, “at the end of the day, the international community is going to have to come to terms with the fact that the Jewish people will not give up on Jerusalem.”

Regarding the report’s specifics however, Gabbay said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to speak about them right now.”

“When they become relevant,” Gabbay added, “I will.”

Earlier in the day, Gabbay had explained to the Post that plans to build new housing units in the city “from Ramat Shlomo to Rehavia” take years before they reach the public, and that their timing was an issue controlled only by bureaucracy.

“I wish the process wasn’t so long-winded,” Gabbay said. “The plans for Ramat Shlomo were drawn up eight years ago, when [Ehud] Olmert was mayor, and they were first brought to the [regional planning] committee almost three years ago.

“If provocateurs weren’t putting their spin on this, it wouldn’t be such an issue,” he said of the construction plans for Ramat Shlomo. “It’s a simple fact that today, there are more Jews living over the Green Line in Jerusalem than there are Arabs, and they need homes to live in.

“If we don’t build in certain areas because it bothers the Americans,” he added, “then we might as well pack up and leave Jerusalem for New York.”

Nevertheless, Hagit Ofran from Peace Now told the Post that the numerous plans in the pipeline would continue to fuel the kind of diplomatic crisis seen now with Ramat Shlomo, each and every time they were announced.

“It isn’t a matter of timing, it’s a matter of policy,” Ofran said. “The government is trying to turn Jerusalem into a binational city in order to prevent a two-state solution.

“It’s only a miracle that during Biden’s visit, only one plan was approved,” she said. “The prime minister doesn’t seem to understand that he needs to know what’s going on with regards to all of these plans.”


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