The Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee on Monday approved the conditions for conducting an environmental survey - the procedure that prevented its approval for the deposit of the plan to build the new neighborhood in Atarot in eastern Jerusalem.
The planned neighborhood is located in the area of the abandoned Atarot Airport, on an area of approximately 1,243 dunams (307 acres) and would see the construction of a new residential neighborhood comprising thousands of housing units, including 800 protected housing units, space for hotels, areas for public buildings, open public areas and employment and commercial areas.
The Environmental Protection Ministry will now have to carry out the survey within a few months and submit it to the committee in order for it to make a final decision to back up the deposit approval.
Hitorerut (Awakening) party head Ofer Berkowitz, who serves as a member of the district committee, told Israel National News: "I am pleased to continue promoting the Atarot program and approving the guidelines of the environmental survey. The process should be accelerated as much as possible and the Atarot plan should be deposited, as this is a strategic plan for ten thousand housing units, which will alleviate the housing crisis and [the resultant] high prices, the tension between communities and eliminate the need to burden existing neighborhoods and harm the health of our valuable green areas."
"I will continue to work with the Housing Ministry and with the District Committee until the process is completed," Berkowitz added.
The body who can now delay the move is the Environmental Protection Ministry, headed by Minister Tamar Zandberg of Meretz.
Minister Zeev Elkin recently estimated in a conversation with Israel National News that Zandberg will not be able to produce a significant delay for the move. "I am very determined to promote this program and I will continue to do so. Once we receive the findings of the Environmental Protection Ministry we will clear the survey."
"The program for Atarot is very important for the future of Jerusalem. We are at the beginning of the road, and as in Givat Hamatos, where we released the latest marketing, persistence in this matter brings results," Elkin said.