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Jerusalem to Build 2,500 Housing Units in Arab Neighborhoods

Shortly after Netanyahu freezes exact number of units for Jews, leftist group approves tenders for Arabs - sparking nationalist outrage.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 9/3/2014, 8:18 PM

Construction site
Construction site
Flash 90

Two thousand, five hundred (2,500) new housing units were slated for building in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the cancellation of thousands of building tenders just two days ago. 

The international community remained silent at this announcement, however, as Wednesday's building tenders were for Arab - not Jewish - neighborhoods in Jerusalem. 

The houses will be built in the Al-Sawahira Al-Gharbiyya neighborhood near Armon HaNetziv, according to Walla! News, home to some 27,000 Israeli Arabs. 

The expansion plan was formulated for over a year and a half, with the help of the leftist "Bimakom" (Heb: "In its place") group, which is engaged in promoting "equal rights" in matters of city planning.

Nationalist politicians and city councilmen reacted with shock to the announcement, after exactly 2,500 building tenders for Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria were frozen Monday by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu due to US threats of a "covert building freeze."  

Jerusalem City Councilman Aryeh King filed an administrative appeal with the Jerusalem District Court over the ruling - which he, along with many others, have seen as discriminatory - and threatened to quit the coalition in the event the tenders are not revoked.

"This is crazy," King said, "and runs contrary to a previous decision not to go ahead with the program until the building committee can confirm the need for large-scale construction in Arab neighborhoods."

King maintained that the plan also "was put forward by the leftists to establish their own the demographic balance in the city, and link Area B to the downtown area - all of this without discussing the issue with the city council."

"Nir Barkat is endangering the city," he added. 

The office of Mayor Nir Barkat said in response, "the Jerusalem Municipality's urban planning constitutes a clear expression of sovereignty over all parts of the city and strengthening the unity of Jerusalem."

"The absence of the Municipality in urban planning may create a difficult situation, and it is dangerous to approve specific programs under the auspices of a court without relating to a range of considerations regarding neighborhoods in, and public buildings missing in, East Jerusalem," it added. "The alternative to municipal urban planning is illegal construction of thousands of housing units and taking over large areas, along with damage to the environment and to an Israeli sovereignty over a united Jerusalem."