Arab buildings in Silwan, Jerusalem
Arab buildings in Silwan, JerusalemFlash 90

Jerusalem Councilman and former mayoral candidate Moshe Leon has demanded a repeat committee discussion on the recent approval of 2,200 new housing units for Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem.

Leon said this is the first time Arab construction in the capital is being approved on such a large scale. He warned that the decision would encourage rampant illegal Arab building and create an unbroken chain of Arab neighborhoods from the north to the south on the eastern side of Jerusalem.

Such a move threatens the demographic balance in eastern Jerusalem, where roughly 200,000 Jews live alongside 230,000 Arab residents.

Leon's initiative may succeed in stopping the housing approval, given that members of the hareidi parties on the Jerusalem council supported Leon when he ran for mayor against incumbent Mayor Nir Barkat, and may support him again in the new push.

"It's not a case of Jews against Arabs, and it isn't a political crisis," clarified Leon. "There's a problem here with management and prioritization."

"At a time when thousands of young families can't find a place to live in Jerusalem, or can't hold up under the cost of housing - the mayor chooses to give a prize to criminals that took over land and built illegally, and he approves this project," said Leon. 

The talk of rewarding criminals comes at a time when several Arab-majority neighborhoods have been the source of massive violent rioting in addition to illegal construction, and after a report on Monday revealed that in the past few months terror attacks in Jerusalem have been growing exponentially.

Leon warned "advancing this project will be a grave mistake for Jerusalem."

The warnings echo statements by Jerusalem Councilman Aryeh King, who just last Friday was dismissedby Barkat from his position in the municipal coalition after he petitioned against the building plans.

"This is crazy 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 told Arutz Sheva.

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

After Barkat decided to dismiss him from his post, King said the mayor had revealed his hand as a "member of the leftist camp," adding that members of the right-wing have been duped by him. He also pointed out that Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) reportedly pressed Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovitz (Jewish Home) to vote for the new Arab building project.