Jerusalem Municipality approved 13 new housing units for Jews in Sheikh Jarrah on Monday, a move expected to further exacerbate tension in the Arab neighborhood.
The local planning and construction committee approved two separate plans for buildings to be erected near the tomb of Shimon Hatzadik.
The approval provides a recommendation for the Interior Ministry, which will decide whether to give the final green light.
Sheikh Jarrah has become a focal point of conflict between left-wing activists and Arab residents, and the dozens of Jews who reside there in 10 different houses.
The latter moved in on a court order which evicted the Arab residents from their homes. Aside from the approved 13, sources in the municipality said plans were in the works for hundreds of new homes.
"I imagine that within 5-10 years some 200 homes for Jews will be built in this area," Arieh King, the chairman of the Israel Land Fund, told Ynet.
"These are lands that belonged to Jews before the establishment of the state, and after 63 years they have been returned to the heirs. The Arabs that lived here illegally throughout these years should thank the Jews who let them stay for free, and now it's time for the Jews to actualize their rights to this place."
The municipality's Likud representative, Attorney Elisha Peleg, said anyone who rejected Jews' rights to build in east Jerusalem was engaging in discrimination.
"I hope as many Jewish neighborhoods as possible are built in east Jerusalem," he told Ynet, adding that the plans were drawn up by private companies and have nothing to do with the state.
"The lots are being built on illegally and invaded by Arabs right now and in the future, when we receive building permits, they will be asked to leave."
But Meretz Councilman Yosef (Pepe) Alalo said the new plans were destroying the status-quo. "Aside from the fact that the plans arrived insufficiently prepared, they are certainly improper and are entirely aimed at causing trouble," he said.
Jerusalem Municipality stated in response that the plans were private and therefore the construction committee was charged only with checking the aspects related to technical planning, not the religion or nationality of the planners.
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