Har Homa and Ma'aleh Adumim receive infrastructure funding

Israel will allocate nearly NIS 100 million toward infrastructure work for the construction of 750 new apartments in Har Homa and Ma'aleh Adumim, officials said Sunday. The 2008 budget includes NIS 50m. toward the construction of 500 apartments in Jerusalem's Har Homa neighborhood and NIS 49m. for the building of 250 new homes in Ma'aleh Adumim, Construction and Housing Ministry spokesman Kobi Bleich said. The 500 new units in the Har Homa project include more than 300 apartments that have recently been marketed and have been the subject of Palestinian criticism and US condemnation, and nearly 200 more that will only be marketed in the coming years "as needed," Bleich said. The 250 apartments in Ma'aleh Adumim needed the authorization of Defense Minister Ehud Barak before they were marketed, he said. Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said the government had not authorized any new projects in Ma'aleh Adumim. Regarding Har Homa, the sources said the government had made clear that Israel considered the neighborhood an integral part of Jerusalem, and would continue building there. Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim met US Ambassador Richard Jones last week and explained Israel's policy on the matter. Over the weekend, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "We have told the Israelis repeatedly that the settlement activity is both against US policy and against the road map obligations." The state financing in the housing projects is not for the housing per se, but is allocated as a guarantor for infrastructure work in the area by the building companies. Herb Keinon contributed to this report.