New apartments in Jerusalem's Har Homa not being marketed

Construction and Housing Ministry: There's a difference between building in east Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

The Construction and Housing Ministry said Tuesday it is not marketing apartments in east Jerusalem's Har Homa neighborhood, but differentiated between future building there and in the West Bank. The comments came after The Jerusalem Post reported that the ministry had earmarked NIS 200 million in the draft 2009-2010 state budget for the preparatory work and marketing of more than 1,000 apartments in the neighborhood, which was constructed over the past decade despite opposition from the international community. The clarification also comes at time when the Obama administration has become increasingly vocal in its criticism of Israeli construction in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem. "There is no marketing of new apartments in Har Homa now or in the foreseeable future," Construction and Housing Ministry spokesman Kobi Bleich said. He noted, however, that Har Homa was located within the municipal borders of Jerusalem and was not in the West Bank, where building requires the authorization of the Defense Ministry. "Har Homa is Jerusalem. It is not [the West Bank settlement of] Ma'aleh Adumim," he said. The city-approved expansion of the neighborhood, which is now home to more than 7,000 Israelis, is pending final authorization by the Interior Ministry, a municipal spokesman said on Tuesday. Israel differentiates between construction in east Jerusalem and in the West Bank, but the international community views all Jewish neighborhoods within them as settlements. About 180,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem. The planned state financing for the Har Homa project is not for the new housing per se, but is allocated as a guarantor for infrastructure work by the private building companies who win ministry tenders to build the apartments.