J'lem okays 600 homes over Green Line

The Jerusalem Municipality has approved plans to build 600 new apartments in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, the city said Monday. The building proposal in the Jewish neighborhood, which is pending final approval by the Interior Ministry's planning and building committee, is expected to be approved by the state. Pisgat Ze'ev is one of the Jerusalem neighborhoods built by Israel over the Green Line. The move comes as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert affirmed in a Kadima faction meeting Monday that construction would continue in east Jerusalem. In a statement, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski said he was confident that "following the prime minister's statement that construction in Jerusalem neighborhoods will continue, the government will not impose any delay on this plan." The Pisgat Ze'ev project is part of a plan to construct 40,000 new apartments throughout the city over the next decade, including a couple of thousand flats in various Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, the city said. On Monday, Peace Now issued a report which claimed that the number of new construction tenders in east Jerusalem had risen sharply since the Annapolis conference in November which formerly relaunched the peace process. Israel differentiates between building in Jerusalem and the West Bank, but the international community does not distinguish between them, and view both as settlement activity. According to Peace Now, which also argued that construction in east Jerusalem harmed the peace process, until Annapolis only two tenders had been issued for a total of 46 units. In December, immediately following the summit, tenders were issued for 307 units in Harm Homa and 440 in East Talpiot, according to Peace Now. In addition, in 2007 no housing plans were submitted for objections, one of the last phases of the approval process, and only two plans to construct a total of 391 units were approved, according to Peace Now. After Annapolis, plans for the construction of 3,648 units in east Jerusalem were submitted for objection, according to Peace Now. A 2000 peace proposal presented by former US President Bill Clinton and rejected by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat states that Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem such as Pisgat Ze'ev would remain under Israeli control, while Arab sections would be part of the Palestinian state. Nevertheless, Palestinians oppose any Israeli construction in east Jerusalem, which they demand as the capital of their future state, saying such a move jeopardizes peace talks.