Jerusalem Panel Takes Three Sensitive Construction Plans Off Agenda

Plans included building access road that passes through Hebron leading to Har Homa and expanding Armon HaNatziv with 150 housing units.

Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee on Monday removed from its agenda discussion regarding three building plans for East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line.

The plans, which were removed from the agenda at the last minute were intended for the expansion of Har Homa by nine new public buildings and 50 residential units, as well construction of an access road that passes through Hebron.

Har Homa, East Jerusalem AP

The third plan referred to expanding Armon HaNatziv neighborhood eastwards with an additional 150 residential units.

At the last minute before the meeting, deputy mayor and chairman of the municipal planning commission Kobi Kahlon announced that the plans would not be raised for discussion as they were not "ripe" in terms of planning.

Sources from the Jerusalem municipality said that the cancellation had to do with political considerations.

The Jerusalem building committee has avoided discussion of politically sensitive plans ever since the United States condemned last year plans to build 1,600 housing units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

In March last year Interior Ministry approved the building of 1,600 new housing units in Ramat Shlomo, with a ministry official saying the plan will expand the ultra-Orthodox East Jerusalem neighborhood to the east and to the south.

The plan was announced during the visit of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden who condemned the decision saying that the "substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel."

The Interior Ministry at the time said that they were not informed as to the decision, which was announced during Biden's visit.

The Interior Ministry had announced the decision to build 1,300 new homes in Ramat Shlomo, in 2008, with the approval of the regional planning board as part of Jerusalem's housing master plan.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has been supervising the committee's decisions in order to avoid diplomatic crises.