sheikh jarrah jewish house 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A building permit reportedly issued by the Jerusalem Municipality for the construction of 20 Jewish homes on Sheikh Jarrah Street in east Jerusalem last week drew fierce condemnations from Peace Now on Tuesday night.
On March 18, the municipality gave final approval for a request to construct the homes on the site of the Shepherd Hotel, which is slated for demolition, according to Hagit Ofran of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch.
“The request was approved in principle last year, but final approval, which requires bureaucratic permits and the payment of funds, was given last week, according to the municipality’s Web site,” Ofran said.
In a statement released on Tuesday night, the Jerusalem Municipality described reports on the fresh building permit as "distorted," adding, "The plan was already approved in July of last year. The approval by the committee [in July] was final, and not an approval in principal, and therefore the granting of [last week's] approval has no additional significance."
The municipality added that the most recent permit was automatically granted after the site's owners had fulfilled their financial obligations.
Ofran accused the municipality of pursuing “an independent policy that can be destructive for the country, and cause more friction with the US. If the prime minister does not take real control over it and ensure that it ceases to act independently, long-term diplomatic repercussions can follow,” she added.
The property is reportedly owned by US Jewish businessman Irving Moskowitz, who has funded a number of housing projects in east Jerusalem.
In July 2009, the first permits for the development of the apartments were issued, sparking protests from the US State Department. The US sent a message last year to the Israeli government via Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, in which it asked for the project to be canceled.