JERUSALEM (JTA) – A Jerusalem municipal committee gave final approval for plans to build a new Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Local Planning Committee on Wednesday approved more than 2,600 new housing units for the Givat Hamatos neighborhood. It would be the first new Jewish neighborhood build in eastern Jerusalem since Har Homa was established in 1997, according to the French news agency AFP. The final approval means tenders can be issued in about two weeks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended building new housing in eastern Jerusalem.
"We’re going to build in Jerusalem for all its residents.This is something that has been done by all previous governments; this is something that my government will continue to do," the Israeli prime minister said Wednesday during a meeting with Asian and Pacific ambassadors to Israel, reminding them that "Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years."
The Givat Hamatos announcement comes two days after another Jerusalem committee approved a plan to build some 1,500 apartments in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem, which stirred a furor when it was first approved during a 2010 visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Construction reportedly is still years away, as the project must pass through more stages of the planning process.
Also on Wednesday, Israel’s Housing Ministry issued tenders for some 6,000 housing units, including 1,000 in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, according to reports.
Israel has come under fire from the international community for pushing ahead with plans to build in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, on land that the Palestinians claim for a future state,
Israel’s recent building announcements "run counter to the cause of peace," the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
"We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action," she said at a reporters’ briefing on Tuesday. "These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk. So we again call on Israel and the Palestinians to cease any kinds of counterproductive unilateral actions and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations."