Israel revives east Jerusalem settler homes plan: NGO

AFP , Wednesday 23 Nov 2016

This file photo taken on November 3, 2016 shows a partial view of the Israeli settlement of Gilo in Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem (Photo: AFP)

Jerusalem municipality on Wednesday revived plans to build 500 new homes for Israeli settlers in the Israeli-occupied east, an NGO said, a first since the US presidential election.

"This morning, the local planning and building committee made the decision to advance (plans)... for 500 units in Ramat Shlomo," the Ir Amim anti-settlement NGO said, referring to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish settlement neighbourhood.

The plans had been on hold since 2014, it said.

The French government warned Tuesday the constructions in the 20,000-strong neighbourhood would be "illegal."

The municipality downplayed its decision, saying the plans were "not new and were approved years ago."

But Ir Amin's Betty Herschman warned that similar decisions could follow.

"The political significance of this action is that it is the first plan to be promoted since the US elections," she said.

Israeli right-wingers have been hoping that Donald Trump's upset presidential win will usher in an administration far less critical of settlement expansion than that of outgoing President Barack Obama's.

Herschman said that Jerusalem city officials had previously stated their intent to exploit the election result to boost settlement building.

Meir Turjeman, chairman of the Jerusalem municipality planning committee, told public radio earlier in November that Trump's victory provided a green light to revive suspended permits in east Jerusalem.

He said the municipality intended to authorise thousands of housing units that had been frozen.

More than 200,000 Israelis now live in east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed.

The move was never recognised by the international community, which regards all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as illegal, including those in east Jerusalem.

Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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