Israel to build hundreds of homes in east J'lem

Ahead of Jerusalem Day, Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim announces new building plans for Har Homa, Pisgat Ze'ev.

Boim 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Boim 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Construction and Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim announced plans Sunday to build more than 800 apartments in the Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, despite international opposition to such construction. The announcement was in line with longstanding Israeli government policy to continue construction projects throughout Jerusalem despite ongoing peace talks with the Palestinians over the future of the city. Boim's spokesman, Eran Sidis, said 763 housing units would go up in Pisgat Ze'ev, and 121 units in Har Homa. Both of the large Jewish neighborhoods, built on land captured by Israel during the Six Day War, were incorporated into the city's expanded municipal borders in a move unrecognized by the international community. The construction plan - announced on the eve of Jerusalem Day, which marks the reunification of the capital 41 years ago - is part of the government's attempt to "strengthen Jerusalem," Sidis said. Israel differentiates between building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, but the international community does not. It considers all Israeli construction in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement activity. According to the 2000 peace proposal put forth by former US president Bill Clinton and rejected by late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Pisgat Ze'ev and Har Homa would remain under Israeli control, while Arab sections of the city would be part of the Palestinian state. Palestinians oppose any Israeli construction in east Jerusalem, saying such a move jeopardizes peace talks and threatens the area they demand will be their future capital. Earlier this year, the Jerusalem Municipality announced plans to construct 40,000 new apartments throughout the city over the next decade, including a couple thousand flats in the Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. Sunday's announcement added to the 1,200 east Jerusalem housing units already launched by the Housing Ministry since peace negotiations resumed late last year.