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Israel delays housing project in east Jerusalem amid US pressure

i24NEWS

clock 3 min read

A general view shows machinery working on the tarmac of the former Atarot airport in east Jerusalem, on November 25, 2021.
AHMAD GHARABLI / AFPA general view shows machinery working on the tarmac of the former Atarot airport in east Jerusalem, on November 25, 2021.

The project would see the construction of 9,000 housing units designated for ultra-Orthodox Jews

Israel announced on Thursday that it delayed a controversial plan to advance a housing project in east Jerusalem following pushback by the United States. 

According to a senior Israeli official, the plan was removed from the agenda of a December 6 meeting of Jerusalem’s District Planning and Building Committee, The Times of Israel (ToI) reported.

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The project, which received authorization from the Jerusalem municipality on Wednesday, would see the construction of 9,000 housing units - designated for ultra-Orthodox Jews - in the Atarot community on an abandoned airport. 

As part of the post-1967 expanded Jerusalem, the area is located beyond the Green Line.

The international community as well as the Palestinian Authority condemned the Atarot proposal, claiming that it would cement Israeli presence in an area meant to be the future capital of the Palestinian state.

Furthermore, critics believe the construction would make cohabitation between Palestinian and Jewish families difficult.

Following the municipality’s approval, US State Department officials expressed their disapproval of the plan even after Israeli officials explained that the advancement was only preliminary, and that final approval could take months if not years, ToI reported.

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The possible revival of the Atarot project comes amid Israeli advancements of other controversial construction projects in and around Jerusalem. 

Last month, the expropriation of public land for the controversial Givat HaMatos neighborhood was approved by a Jerusalem planning committee, according to ToI.

An Israeli panel also advanced plans in April of this year to construct 540 residential units in the contentious east Jerusalem area of Har Homa.