HOUSES UNDER construction in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem in 2010.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Neither the Jerusalem Municipality nor the Housing Ministry confirmed or denied an Army Radio report on Monday that claimed the government has ordered a de facto construction freeze for 6,000 housing units in the capital.
According to Army Radio, 2,200 units will be halted in the neighborhoods of Gilo, several thousand in Har Homa, and hundreds more in Pisgat Ze’ev, over the Green Line.
The report comes less than two months after Construction Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to construct 25,000 homes in the capital, with 15,000 beyond the Green Line, including in Ramot Shlomo, Gilo, Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Yaakov and Atarot.
Gallant’s announcement, which came one month before Jerusalem Day marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of the capital, followed US President Donald Trump’s February request to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington to “hold back on settlements.”
During an Israel Radio interview, Gallant said the ministry has been working closely in coordination with the Jerusalem Municipality for the past two years on the initiative.
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“We will build 10,000 units in Jerusalem and some 15,000 within the [extended] municipal boundaries of Jerusalem,” he said. “It will happen.”
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat swiftly condemned the announcement as a violation of international law and “deliberate sabotage” of a two-state solution.
“All settlements in occupied Palestine are illegal under international law,” he said in a statement. “Palestine will continue to resort to international bodies to hold Israel, the occupation power, accountable for its grave violations of international law throughout occupied Palestine.”
In January, two days after Trump took office, Netanyahu said he was lifting restrictions on settlement construction in east Jerusalem, just as the city’s municipality approved building permits for hundreds of new homes.
During Barack Obama’s presidency, Netanyahu’s government came under repeated censure for building in settlements and in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line, which the previous US administration saw as an obstacle to peace, resulting in a “de facto construction freeze.”