By TOVAH LAZAROFF
The Interior Ministry on Wednesday opened the door to Jewish construction in the east Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Shuafat.
At the request of the Jerusalem Municipality the District Committee of the Interior Ministry approved a plan that re-parcels five dunams of land in Shuafat, according to the Interior Ministry spokeswoman. She would not comment on how that impacted use of the land.
But Meretz member Meir Margalit of the Jerusalem City Council said the ministry's decision would allow for a plan to be filed with the city to construct Jewish apartments in Shuafat. Such a plan, however, has yet to be handed over to the Municipality and approval would take time, said Margalit.
Army radio as well as Channel 1 reported on Wednesday there were plans to build three buildings in Shuafat to house 50 Jewish families.
Hadash chairman Muhammad Barakei blasted the decision, claiming that Israel was behaving "like a gang that robs in broad daylight," according to Channel 10.
"The behavior of the Netanyahu-Barak government in occupied east Jerusalem is like the behavior of a gang that robs in broad daylight," Barakei said.
"Everyday its different branches approve plans to settle gangs of settlers in the heart of occupied Jerusalem. These are not preconditions to negotiations, but rather heavy machinery that completely destructs any hope for agreement and peace. Apparently, this was decided with the complete approval of the Obama administration, which expresses its support by silence or shy condemnation," the Hadash MK reportedly stated.
News of the potential Jewish construction in Shuafat came just one day after the Jerusalem Municipal Planning and Construction Committee approved the construction of four buildings for 24 Jewish families in the a Palestinian neighborhood on the Mt. of Olives, in the eastern part of the city.
President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Israel to halt all Jewish construction in east Jerusalem as a precondition to the resumption of peace talks which have been stalled since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took office last March.
Netanyahu has insisted that construction will continue in east Jerusalem. On Tuesday, a US official told The Jerusalem Post that continued Jewish construction in east Jerusalem harms the peace process.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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