News Brief

Israeli residential construction in eastern Jerusalem will now be subject to Ehud Olmert’s approval.

The prime minister has ordered that all eastern Jerusalem housing projects first be vetted by him, after one such project in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem drew Palestinian and foreign censure, the Israeli prime minister’s senior deputy said Sunday.

“Obviously it is the top government echelon that must decide on any construction that has diplomatic ramifications and can cause diplomatic problems for the State of Israel, rather than clerks in the Agriculture or Housing ministries,” Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon told Army Radio.

But Ramon said there was no plan to freeze construction in Har Homa, which Palestinians consider part of the land where they want to establish a state. He said Olmert’s decisions would be more likely to deal with the timing of such construction, rather than whether or not to build.

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