Building Begins on New Jewish Homes in E. J'lem's Ras al-Amud Neighborhood

Construction has begun on another 60 housing units in the Jewish neighborhood of Maaleh Hazeitim, in East Jerusalem's Ras al-Amud section.

Fifty-one Jewish families already live in the small neighborhood, built on land purchased 15 years ago by the American millionaire Irwin Moskowitz, patron of the Ateret Cohanim organization.

The neighborhood's initial construction provoked an international storm in September 1997, and the United States pressured Israel not to go ahead with the plan. The pressure was rebuffed by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and backed by Jerusalem's mayor at the time, Ehud Olmert.

The new construction, with a municipal permit, is being carried out by Kedumim 3000, a company headed by Nachman Zoldan, father of Ido Zoldan who was murdered two months ago in a terror attack near Kedumim.

Right-wing activists ascribe great significance to widening Jewish construction in Ras al-Amud, and to realizing ownership of lots and buildings that it has managed to acquire in recent years in that vicinity.

According to their thinking, Maaleh Hazeitim makes it harder to create a Palestinian territorial corridor, a sort of "safe passage" between the West Bank to the east, and the Temple Mount.

In the past, Israeli-Palestinian talks included the idea of establishing such a corridor running through the old Jericho road, the Mount of Olives region, Motta Gur Street, up to the Lion's Gate and to the Temple Mount.