Condtruction beyond Green Line continues in full pace: Jerusalem's city hall announces Monday its plan to construct 600 new apartments in the neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, part of the eastern part of the city Palestinians hope will one day be their capital.
The apartments are an element of Mayor Uri Lupolianski's plan to build 40 thousand new apartments for young couples in Jerusalem's municipal territories, some of which are beyond the 1967 borders.
Lupolianski said that he believed "that following the prime minister's declaration that the construction in Jerusalem's neighborhoods will continue, the government won’t impose any delays on this plan."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledges that Israel will continue to build in east Jerusalem and in heavily Jewish areas of the West Bank that Israel wants to keep in a final peace agreement. But Olmert has stressed that the building will not disrupt peace negotiations.
Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa (Photo: AP)
The land upon which the construction is to take place was originally meant for the industrial construction, but following a meeting of The Israel Land Administration with city engineers and the Planning Bureau, the land's purpose was changed to include housing projects.
The projects are expected to include low density, quality housing and an extensive parks system. The local committee in charge of the planning recommended a scattering of houses that will allow for a neighborhood of better quality, and demanded good transportation options for the residents. The plan was transferred to a regional committee for approval.
'Good, affordable housing for young couples'
Palestinians have called the construction the greatest obstacle to peace, but Jerusalem Municipality officials do not appear concerned.
"The mayor and the municipality will continue to build within Jerusalem's municipal territories in order to offer good, affordable housing to young couples that want to live here," a city official said.
Chairman of the Ir Amim ("city of nations") organization, Amos Gil, denounced on Monday statements made by the Israeli government confirming it would continue to build in Jerusalem.
"The inflation in construction plans in east Jerusalem proves that the government has given up on finding a political deal in regards to the city. Instead of building trust between the two sides, the government would rather build more and more neighborhoods in east Jerusalem – construction that destroys any chance of making progress towards peace," said Gil.
Meanwhile Monday, the Shas religious party said that Olmert had promised to build 800 homes in a West Bank Jewish settlement.
Shas spokesman Roi Lachmanovitch says that Olmert promised the homes will be build in the Beitar Ilit settlement. Olmert apparently hopes to keep the hawkish member of his coalition from quitting as he progresses in peace talks with the Palestinians.
The Shas announcement Monday came just as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ended a visit in the region meant to prod the sides toward a peace agreement by the end of the year.
The Palestinians demand a cessation of the settlement construction in the areas they want for a future state.