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'East J'lem construction increased 7-fold in 2011'
By MELANIE LIDMAN
10/01/2012
Peace Now says number of apartment units in e. J'lem which received final approval increased from 495 units to 3,690 units.
 
Peace Now slammed a large increase in construction approvals for areas of Jerusalem over the 1967 Green Line in its annual report released Tuesday about construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Between 2010 and 2011, the number of apartment units in east Jerusalem that received final approval increased by more than sevenfold, from 495 units to 3,690 units. The figure for 2010 is closer to the average number of units that received final approval in east Jerusalem between 2005 and 2009, an average of 425 per year.

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Deputy Minister Pepe Alalu (Meretz), who sits on the Local Planning and Building Committee, attributed the leap in final approvals to a variety of causes: people finally beginning to appreciate the severe lack of housing in Jerusalem, less fear of US President Barack Obama, who is wrapped up in the upcoming election, and a reaction to the de facto freeze of east Jerusalem construction in 2010 following “the Biden fiasco” when a project for 1,600 units in Ramat Shlomo was announced during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit in March 2010.

Alalu said the approved units were part of expansions of existing neighborhood, which are “problematic,” but almost everyone knows these neighborhoods will continue to be part of Israel, according to the Clinton Parameters. The Clinton Parameters state that areas that have a Jewish majority will stay part of Israel while areas that have an Arab majority could become part of a future Palestinian state.

“The problem isn’t the building itself, the problem is that I say ‘I’m the owner, and I can do whatever I want, that I don’t want to see the other side as a partner,’” said Alalu.

Peace Now also condemned the start of construction of 55 Jewish apartment units inside majority Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. In 2011, there were 18 units being built in a-Suwane, 20 units under construction in Sheikh Jarrah (the Shepherd Hotel) and 17 nearly-completed units in Ras el-Amud (at the old Judea and Samaria district police station).
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