(JNS.org) Ahead of the scheduled resumption of Israeli-Palestinian conflict talks
in Jerusalem this week, the Israeli Housing and Construction Ministry issued
tenders on Sunday for the construction of about 1,200 new housing units in
eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, amid vocal U.S. opposition to
construction beyond the pre-1967 lines, Israel
The announcement comes as an Israeli ministerial committee began meeting to authorize the release of 26 pre-Oslo Palestinian terrorist prisoners, and was seen by some as “sweetening the pill” of such a painful prisoner release.
The tenders published on Sunday, applying to housing units already in advanced planning stages, were posted on the Israel Land Authority website.
Four hundred apartments will be marketed in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, an additional 210 apartments in the nearby Homat Shmuel neighborhood and another 183 in Pisgat Zeev, for a total of 793 new housing units in Jerusalem. A further 117 housing units are to be built in Ariel, as are 149 in Efrat, 92 in Maaleh Adumim and 36 in Beitar.
Israeli Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel said, “The government of Israel is working to lower the cost of living in all parts of Israel. No other country in the world is told where it can and cannot build. We will continue to market new housing and building apartments all across the country, in the Negev and the Galilee and in central Israel, to satisfy the needs of all the residents of Israel. This is the right thing to do right now, both from a Zionist and an economic perspective.”
Last Thursday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki criticized Israeli construction beyond the pre-1967 lines, saying, “We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity and oppose any efforts to legitimize settlement outposts.”