The Interior Ministry announced on Thursday that the Jerusalem Municipality's Zoning Commission authorized the construction of 930 housing units in the Har Homa neighborhood,
which is located beyond the Green Line.
It is estimated that construction will commence within two to three years.
The ministry stressed that the delay in procedures to approve the new units stemmed from bureaucracy-related issues and not from a construction freeze order.
"We continue to build in Jerusalem as we do all across the country. The real estate crisis is serious and we shall not halt projects," Interior Minister Eli Yishai said.
Yishai stated that he has instructed his staff to promote construction plans, which include small housing units "in an effort to enable all Israeli citizens to purchase an apartment." It was noted that the project is the initiative of the Construction and Housing Ministry.
Har Homa. Construction to commence within two years (Archive photo: Reuters)
The project is considered particularly sensitive as it will effectively create contiguity of Jewish neighborhoods and will disconnect Sur Baher from Bethlehem.
Peace Now said in response that the authorization was given particularly quickly. "The interior minister is exploiting the housing crisis to force young couples to move to settlements for financial reasons," it was claimed.
Meir Margalit of the Jerusalem Municipality said: "Yishai is looking for any possible excuse to sabotage the peace process."
He accused the minister of sacrificing peace and security for political interests and said that one needs to be careful with such projects ahead of September, when the Palestinians will seek UN membership.
Major building plans in Jerusalem lands beyond the Green Line have led to crises with
the United States, which opposes such construction before a final status agreement is reached.
The prime minister's bureau is meant to be informed of such building approvals before they are made public.
Ronen Medzini contributed to this report