A plan for 120 housing units in the capital’s northeast Ramot neighborhood, which is located over the Green Line, received final approval on Monday from the Jerusalem Municipality’s Local Planning and Construction Committee on Monday.

This is the first Jewish construction project over the Green Line to receive a final approval in 2011, according to the Ir Amim NGO.

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The building permit issued by the municipality is the last step in the years-long approval process, and is a formality that is almost always approved. It is, however, the last chance for the government or municipality to stop a project before construction begins. With the building permit in hand, contractors can begin work on the Ramot project as soon as Tuesday.

The project includes two residential buildings up to 13 stories high with some commercial space, and is located in the northeast corner of Ramot, looking toward the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina. The security barrier runs between Ramot and Beit Hanina.

Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran, who monitors east Jerusalem construction, noted that the plan is part of ongoing expansion plans in Ramot and that it was well-known before Monday’s discussion. The project started the approval process in 2004.

Though the announcement means work on the project can begin at any time, it did not cause as much of a reaction as the announcement of 13 housing units in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood last week, which only represented the first approval for that project.

“Sheikh Jarrah was worse,” municipal opposition head City Councilor Pepe Alalu (Meretz) said. “But there’s no question, we’re only hurting ourselves with these decisions.”

“In the area of the Holy Basin [which includes Sheikh Jarrah], things are much more sensitive and explosive, but it doesn’t mean that these plans outside of the Holy Basin are of no consequence,” said Orly Noy, the spokeswoman for Ir Amim.

“New construction in Jerusalem is essential to the development of the city and enabling young people and students to live and buy apartments,” a municipal spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post. She said the city continues to “promote and discuss” both Jewish and Arab construction, and that the planning committees make their decisions based on professional criteria in accordance with the city’s master plan.



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