Partially-complete building in Ramat Shlomo
Partially-complete building in Ramat ShlomoIsrael news photo: file

The United States, as expected, condemned on Monday Israel's plans to build new homes in Jerusalem. The condemnation came after the Interior Ministry decided to go ahead with plans to build 1,500 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland criticized the move and called on Israel to refrain from unilateral actions. She also said that the American administration’s position regarding settlement building has not changed.

The Ramat Shlomo 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 non-member observer state.

Ramat Shlomo, despite being described by some as a “Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem”, is in fact located in northern Jerusalem, between Ramot with 60,000 Jewish residents and the Har Hotzvim Industrial Park.

The area was empty hills before the reunification of the city in 1967. Arabs and anti-Zionist media call all areas reunited with Jerusalem in 1967 "eastern Jerusalem", giving the impression that the eastern, Arab-populated section that was occupied by Jordan until then is going to have an influx of thousands of Jews that will crowd Arab out.

The Palestinian Authority said Monday night it will file a complaint with the United Nations Security Council over the progress in the construction plans.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, called the the plan a “blatant challenge” to the international community and a “disregard for the feelings of the Palestinian people and Arab nation.”

He claimed that Monday's decision by the ministry's planning committee would further isolate Israel “after the whole world... recognized the Palestinian state in the 1967 borders.”