A laborer works on an apartment building under construction in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Jerusalem municipality's planning committee gave initial approval on Wednesday for the construction of 200 new homes in an urban settlement in Jerusalem, amid aggravated tensions with the Palestinians.
The new housing is slated for Ramot, a sprawling hillside complex of apartment buildings and private homes at the northern edge of Jerusalem, on land Israel captured in the Six-Day War. Palestinians want this territory as part of a future state.
Brachie Sprung, a spokeswoman for the Jerusalem municipality, said its planning committee granted preliminary approval for a private contractor to build the 200 housing units on land purchased in Ramot. The project must pass several more stages before construction could begin, she said.
Nabil Abu Rdeineh, a senior aide to Abbas, said in response to the announcement: "It looks like during every visit by Kerry to the region, (Israel) threatens to build new settler homes. This is a continuous escalation and contributes to a negative atmosphere."
Last month, an Israeli decision to accelerate planning for some 1,000 new settler homes in mainly Arab east Jerusalem drew Palestinian anger and international condemnation.
Violence has flared in the past few weeks over Jerusalem's most sacred and politically sensitive site, holy to both Jews and Muslims. US Secretary of State John Kerry was due in Jordan on Wednesday for talks with King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on efforts to calm the situation.