Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem 370.
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
The Jerusalem Municipality was set to approve funding Monday for infrastructure
construction on housing tenders for 930 homes in the east Jerusalem Jewish
neighborhood of Har Homa, resulting in condemnation by the east Jerusalem
portfolio head and the US government.
Construction in the contested
neighborhood is part of a large-scale project approved in August 2011 to build
roughly 1,000 units in the area, for which tenders were issued in April 2012 –
pre-dating the alleged “de facto freeze” on new building tenders there since
“I’m very critical of this decision, especially because of the
timing,” said Meretz city councilman Dr. Meir Margalit, who holds the east
“It looks like someone in the municipality wanted to
imitate the ‘Biden incident
,’” he added, referring to the diplomatic flap that
transpired in 2011 when the Interior Ministry announced plans to build in Ramat
Shlomo during the US vice president’s visit to the country.
The US State
Department preemptively criticized the likely passage Sunday as “harmful for
peace,” one day before US Secretary of State John Kerry left the country after
unsuccessfully attempting to restart peace negotiations.
Margalit said he
viewed the approval as evidence municipality members want to “undermine the
“This is proof that many people in strategic positions
within the municipality want to undermine the peace process,” he said by phone
“If this happened intentionally, then that’s bad. If it happened
unintentionally, it’s worse, because the meaning is that many people here don’t
understand the political context of what they’re doing.”
meeting the municipality and the Knesset Finance Committee discussed over 130
items pertaining to a variety of municipal issues, including allocating funding
for new classrooms for Arab students in east Jerusalem and developing public and
green spaces in the Har Homa neighborhood.
The municipality patently
denied the construction project will obstruct peace negotiations, claiming new
construction is essential for the city’s development by lowering costs for
Jewish and Arab students and young adults alike.
“We continue to build in
all city neighborhoods according to zoning plans for Jews and Arabs,” it said in
“In the coming years, we intend to build tens of thousands
of homes throughout the city for the different population sectors.”