Claims that the Jerusalem Municipality has approved the construction of 104 housing units for Jews in the eastern neighborhood of Ras al-Amud continue to make waves.
The Jerusalem Municipality has denied the claims made by the Ir Amim association, which says that the new project will be connected by a bridge to the Jewish neighborhood of Ma'aleh Hazeitim.
Aryeh King of the Fund for Israel Land said Ma'aleh Hazeitim consists of more than 100 housing units, adding that "God willing, together with the new construction we'll reach 200 or more housing units. This means that we are already talking about a large Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
According to King, those claiming that the construction will take place in the heart of the Arab population are basing their assumptions on leftist organizations' "distorted presentations of the reality on the ground. Travelling from downtown Jerusalem to this area does not require passing by any Arab homes."
Ir Amim Director Yehudit Oppenheimer told Ynet Sunday that "(the planned) construction in Ras al-Amud is part of the government's policy. This is a planned initiative by the settler organizations in Jerusalem.
"The fact that we are talking about private land doesn’t mean that it is permitted to build a settlement on it, particularly if it goes against the interests of the State of Israel," she said. "A government that claims it is headed towards peace cannot approve such a project."
Plan for Ras al-Amud project
Jerusalem City Council member Meir Margalit, representing the leftist Meretz party, said he will do all he can to "urge the US government to stop the planned construction, just as it did in 'E1' (between east Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim) and other areas. This project is another initiative aimed at sabotaging a possible peace agreement in this city. It is a dangerous move, because it prevents the future division of Jerusalem, without which there will be no peace. I'm certain that the Americans won’t let the project materialize."
However, Attorney Elisha Peleg, City Council representative for the ruling Likud party, said he would work to promote the housing projects "in any way possible to strengthen Israel's sovereignty in all of Jerusalem.
"I believe this is a continuation of the surge in Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, which is aimed at establishing facts on the ground and preventing any thoughts of dividing the capital," he said.
"While the Americans oppose Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, they too realize that the city cannot be divided."
Meanwhile, 20 of the 31 City Council members signed a letter addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which they demanded that the government approve the issuing of a tender for the construction of 800 housing units in the neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev.
"I hope the delay in issuing the tender has nothing to do with the American pressure, in light of your statement that construction in Jerusalem will not be frozen," the letter read.
The municipality said in a statement that "the plan was discussed by the municipality's professional teams, and has not been approved for advancing planning as it does not match the urban planning policy in this area."