'Interior Minister doesn't have authority to delay J'lem master plan'

An Israeli NGO has informed Interior Minister Eli Yishai that he does not have the legal authority to delay a master plan for Jerusalem which includes the construction of thousands of apartments for Arab residents of east Jerusalem. The move by the Bimkom organization, which promotes greater public involvement in the planning process and seeks to retroactively legalize illegal construction in Arab neighborhoods, comes in the wake of reports that the Shas minister has instructed ministry employees to nix the master plan for Jerusalem on the grounds that it allocates too much territory for Palestinian construction. The city master plan, which is pending final approval, is the first municipal plan for the city in half a century. The plan, which envisions the capital becoming the greenest city in Israel and includes affordable housing for young residents, also includes the construction of 13,550 apartments for Arab residents of east Jerusalem, with 70 percent of them to be available for building by 2030.