Yishai approves 1,600 units in east Jerusalem

By MELANIE LIDMAN
August 11, 2011 12:52

Interior Minister: People need to live. If there was room to build in Rehavia, Nahlaot, we’d build there, but there’s no land for building.

4 minute read.



Palestinian workers build Kedumim settlement home

Palestinian workers build settlement home in Kedumim 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)

In a nod to the hundreds of tents across the country,  Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) approved 1,600 apartment units in the east Jerusalem haredi neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo late on Wednesday night.

Peace Now threatened to bring Yishai to the High Court of Justice over his decision to give final approval to the 1,600 apartment units in Ramat Shlomo that garnered international condemnation when they received initial approval during Vice President Joe Biden’s March 2010 visit. Biden took personal offense to the announcement, which touched off a low period in relations with the White House.

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“People need to live, if there was room to build in Rehavia, or in Nahlaot, we’d build there, but there’s no land for building,” he said. He added that Yishai was working to approve as many projects as possible, without regard to location in east or west Jerusalem or whether the residents would be Jewish or Arab. “If there was a project for Arabs in east Jerusalem, we’d approve that too,” he said.

Ofran noted that while the Ramat Shlomo plan was part of the acceleration program to push large housing projects quickly in order to deal with the housing shortage, by law the public needs a two month period to comment and raise objections. The project was deposited a week ago, the step before the public comment period.

“They did make technical progress,” she said. “But it still takes another half a year.”

Lachmanovich dismissed Peace Now’s claims and said they had a specific agenda they were trying to promote.

The Hebrew media reported that the Interior Ministry was working to prepare two additional projects in east Jerusalem, including 2,000 projects in Givat Hamatos and 625 units in Pisgat Zeev. 

The plan for Givat Hamatos has been in the approval process for many years, and is currently involved in a long and complicated legal process to determine ownership of the land. The area in question is a patchwork of public and private land, and the “parcelization” process to determine who owns what can take several years. The Pisgat Zeev project received final approval from the Interior Ministry in December.

Two weeks ago, a project for 930 units in Har Homa C, the newest neighborhood of Har Homa, also located in east Jerusalem, was approved by the District Committee. International condemnation was muted and delayed, with the US only expressing their disappointment after three days.

According to Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran, the project still needs to go through the remainder of the approval process, which includes a two month period for the public to present opposition. The project still needs at least six months before it can receive Yishai’s final approval, she told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday morning.

Yishai announced late on Wednesday night that he had approved the 1,600 apartments as an answer to the protester’s demand for more housing. Yishai’s spokesman, Roei Lachmanovich, said that the minister’s primary concern now was freeing up as much land as possible for building. He dismissed the claim that the approval for apartments across the 1967 Green Line was political. 

“People need to live, if there was room to build in Rehavia, or in Nahlaot, we’d build there, but there’s no land for building,” he said. He added that Yishai was working to approve as many projects as possible, without regard to location in east or west Jerusalem or whether the residents would be Jewish or Arab. “If there was a project for Arabs in east Jerusalem, we’d approve that too,” he said.

Ofran noted that while the Ramat Shlomo plan was part of the acceleration program to push large housing projects quickly in order to deal with the housing shortage, by law the public needs a two month period to comment and raise objections. The project was deposited a week ago, the step before the public comment period.

“They did make technical progress,” she said. “But it still takes another half a year.”

Lachmanovich dismissed Peace Now’s claims and said they had a specific agenda they were trying to promote.

The Hebrew media reported that the Interior Ministry was working to prepare two additional projects in east Jerusalem, including 2,000 projects in Givat Hamatos and 625 units in Pisgat Zeev. 

The plan for Givat Hamatos has been in the approval process for many years, and is currently involved in a long and complicated legal process to determine ownership of the land. The area in question is a patchwork of public and private land, and the “parcelization” process to determine who owns what can take several years. The Pisgat Zeev project received final approval from the Interior Ministry in December.

Two weeks ago, a project for 930 units in Har Homa C, the newest neighborhood of Har Homa, also located in east Jerusalem, was approved by the District Committee. International condemnation was muted and delayed, with the US only expressing their disappointment after three days.


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