Jerusalem announced Monday additional building in a large part of the capital where the Palestinian Authority, backed by U.S. President Barack Obama, has demanded that Israel halt new construction for Jews.
The city’s recent thaw of a de facto building freeze has turned into a meltdown with the approval of an additional 40 units. Jerusalem's latest action comes one day after Mayor Nir Barkat said that Jews will continue to receive building permits in all parts of the capital.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated on Friday that Israel must halt construction for Jews in all of the areas where the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty. Barkat called Ban’s statement “racist.”
The United States does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, and President Obama raised expectations in the Arab world last year by backing PA demands in Jerusalem.
The 40 housing units in four buildings approved Monday followed by two weeks the permission to build 32 apartments, all of them part of a planned 220-unit project in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood that is home to approximately 50,000 people, some of them Arabs.
The United States has not commented on the new construction approval, but reporters probably will bring up the issue at the daily press briefing at the State Department later Monday. Government spokesmen said two weeks ago they disapprove of the permits, but the issue did not cause a diplomatic crisis. Last March, relations between the United States and Israel were tense following the announcement of bureaucratic progress for a 1.600-unit project in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood but which is two years away from final approval.
Deputy Jerusalem mayor David Hadari told Arutz 7 Monday he voted in favor of building the 40 units even though he thinks a lot more should be approved. “What are 40 units for a city of 800,000 residents,” he said.