Israel temporarily halted the advancement of plans for 2,000 Jewish homes in east Jerusalem ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel on Wednesday.
The plans for the Jewish units had initially been scheduled to be debated this Monday, three days after the Biden visit.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid, however, asked Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to remove the plans, according to media reports. KAN News said that Shaked as a protest move canceled the entire meeting.
What's the east Jerusalem saga?
The issue of east Jerusalem is a particularly sensitive one, in light of Israel’s specific history with Biden. During his visit to Israel in 2010 as vice president, the Interior Ministry advanced plans for 1,600 new Jewish homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.
This time around, Israel has been careful to put a halt to as many controversial issues as possible regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which could spark discord during the three-day visit.
A debate on plans for 3,412 homes in the E1 section of the Ma’aleh Adumin settlement was delayed until September.
Biden is opposed to Jewish construction in east Jerusalem. Israel had maintained that it has a right to build anywhere in its united capital.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum opposed the decision to scrap the agenda items. “The truth must be clearly told,” she said. “We have the right to build our eternal capital everywhere in Jerusalem.”
“The truth must be clearly told. We have the right to build our eternal capital everywhere in Jerusalem.”Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum
According to the left-wing group Peace Now, the two projects that had been scheduled to come before the Interior Ministry’s Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee would have particularly harmful effects on a two-state resolution that designates east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
The Lower Aqueduct plan allows for 1,446 new housing units between the Jewish neighborhoods of Har Homa and Givat Hamatos, Peace Now said. The Givat Hashaked plan for 473 Jewish housing units is located near the Palestinian neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Safafa.
“Both plans are intended to strike a severe blow at the possibility of a two-state solution, and of the development of East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital,” said Peace Now. It noted that as of Tuesday evening, both plans along with the Monday agenda were on the virtual online schedule.