by Maayana Miskin
The Housing Ministry has approved the construction of 240 homes in northern Jerusalem, after several months with no construction in Jewish neighborhoods east of the 1949 armistice line. While there was no official Jerusalem building freeze, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu assured Israelis that there would be no Jerusalem freeze, in practice, no new building permits were issued for some time.
The new Jerusalem homes will be built in the neighborhoods of Ramot and Pisgat Zeev. They were approved along with more than 3,700 housing units elsewhere in the country.
Major construction projects were approved in Netanya, Ashdod, and Tel Aviv, which are expected to get 1,100, 480, and 450 new housing units respectively. Housing Minister Ariel Attias (Shas) said his ministry is working to close the gap between demand and supply, particularly in central Israel.
Members of Knesset Zeev Elkin (Likud) and Aryeh Eldad (Ichud Leumi – National Union) of the Knesset Lobby for the Land of Israel welcomed the step to resume building, but warned that it would not be enough. “The capital of Israel and its 700,000 residents need many more housing units just to meet the minimal demands of natural growth,” they said. “The Lobby insists that thousands more units be built, in both Israel's capital and Judea and Samaria.”
While Jerusalem has historically been a Jewish city, many Jerusalem neighborhoods fell into Jordanian hands in the 1948 War of Independence. They remained under Jordanian occupation until 1967, when Israel won the Six Day War. Formerly occupied neighborhoods in eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem were soon officially annexed, and the united city became Israel's capital again.
The Palestinian Authority and Arab countries reject Israel's claim to Jerusalem and have demanded that all parts of the city that were once under Jordanian control be given to the PA to be used as the capital of a new Arab state. The PA's seat of power is currently in Ramallah.
Under the Obama administration, the United States has largely backed PA demands, and has criticized Israel for allowing Jews to build new homes throughout the city.
United States officials claimed in May that Netanyahu had given in to demands and had agreed not to build new Jewish homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo for two years. Netanyahu denied the report
Baruch atem b'Shem, Yeshua