East Jerusalem construction projects taken off schedule

Postponed discussion of 50 units in Har Homa and 150 in Armon Hanatziv, possibly as a "thank you" for US veto.

Givat Ze'ev construction 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Givat Ze'ev construction 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Three Jerusalem construction projects located over the Green Line were taken off the schedule for discussion and possible approval at a municipality committee meeting at the last minute, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The municipality’s Local Planning and Building Committee was set to discuss two projects in Har Homa and one project in Armon Hanatziv on Monday before they were taken off the agenda just before the meeting commenced.
One Har Homa project was a new access road to the neighborhood from Derech Hebron. The second was a broader project that included nine new buildings with a total of 50 apartments, as well as plans for a swimming pool, kindergartens, eight synagogues, and schools devoted to students with special needs. The Armon Hanatziv project was an expansion on the southern edge of the neighborhood for an additional 150 housing units.  Initial approval from the Local Planning and Building Committee is the first step in a long approval process for building projects that can last from three to ten years.
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“The projects were taken off of the schedule because they were not ready from a planning perspective,” a municipality spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Some city councilors suggested the sudden disappearance of the items from the schedule could be a gift to the United States for their veto of the UN resolution calling settlements illegal.
“I can’t say for sure that there was pressure from the [Israeli] government, but the actions speak for themselves,” said Elisha Peleg (Likud), who sits on the Local Planning and Building Committee.
Opposition head Pepe Alalu (Meretz) agreed that it seemed suspicious that the items were suddenly removed. “They say it was technical reasons, but it’s hard to believe,” he told the Post on Tuesday. “It seems to me it could be influenced by politics, but I can’t say for sure.”
Alalu added that he found the Har Homa projects were particularly problematic because the new road would open up a new area for development, clearing the way for hundreds of new apartments.
Peleg slammed the decision to put off the discussion of the projects. “Residents of east Jerusalem have a right to get services they need, including roads, synagogues, and schools for kids with special needs,” he said.
He added that the committee should be making their decisions solely on the merits of planned projects, not for political reasons or pressure from any other body, and that taking the projects off the agenda was a big mistake.
“I yelled at the mayor about this a few minutes ago, and he said that the projects will be added to a future schedule,” Peleg said. Peleg expects them to come before the committee again in ten days. Alalu said he believed the committee would approve the projects when they are discussed in the coming weeks.