Jerusalem Municipality's local planning and construction committee announced Monday it would not approve plans to expand the Jewish Har Homa neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
The announcement came just a few days after the US vetoed a UN vote to condemn construction in settlements, causing speculation that the plans were not approved due to political pressure.
The committee stated officially that it had removed a hearing on the plans from the agenda because they were not well-enough prepared, but both left and right-wing members of the committee insisted that "political and state officials were involved".
The plans were threefold: Two were for new construction in the neighborhood and the third was for the paving of a new road leading to it.
Har Homa is subject to international scrutiny because it was built beyond the 1967 border after the Oslo Accords were signed. The new plans would expand the neighborhood by some 60 acres – including dozens of homes, eight synagogues, a kindergarten, a swimming pool, and more.
"The explanations provided by the chairman of the committee, who said the plans were dropped due to planning issues, are false – to say the least," Attorney Elisha Peleg, who chairs the Likud faction in the municipality, told Ynet.
He explained that the plans had been recommended for approval by all the necessary authorities, and that their removal from the agenda smacked of political intervention. "This kind of interference does not comply with the law, which says that considerations must be solely related to planning," Peleg said.
But the Ir Amim faction, which opposes the construction, was pleased. "This decision proves the Jerusalem Municipality has come to its senses after months of disorderly conduct in the eastern city, and is adopting a more responsible policy," the group said in a statement.
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