MK Danon in Ramat Shlomo
MK Danon in Ramat Shlomo Israel news photo: Yoni Kempinski

Developers were told this week they must reduce a long-planned housing project in Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood by 100 units – and then re-submit the plan before receiving “final approval.”

Interior Ministry spokesperson Efrat Orbach told AFP on Monday the ministry's planning committee said the request to build 1,600 new housing units needed to be trimmed to 1,500.

The order to revise the plan came after a meeting at which the committee heard public objections. There are still a number of stages through which the plan must pass before building can actually begin.

"The plan was reduced from 1,600 to 1,500,” she said. “Now the plan has to be resubmitted and meet the conditions in order to get final approval.”

The project, which has dragged on for years, has yet to see one shovel touch the ground. Nevertheless, a routine announcement involving part of the processing set off a diplomatic firestorm during a visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in March 2010. After receiving basic authorization by Interior Minister Eli Yishai in August 2011, the plan was quietly shelved.

Two weeks ago, it was revived in the wake of the de facto recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a sovereign state by the United Nations General Assembly, which passed a resolution approving its new status as a nonmember observer state. 

"It (the project) could take months more, or years,” Orbach noted. Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, is in a part of Israel's capital that was restored to the city during the 1967 Six Day War and consisted of barren hills. It is a part of the Holy City that the Palestinian Authority believes it is entitled to seize for use as a capital for its own planned state.

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