Har Homa (Emil Salman)
A view of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, where permits are being issued for 146 more housing units. Photo by Emil Salman
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The Jerusalem Local Planning Committee on Wednesday approved building permits for 184 housing units beyond the Green Line.

The committee gave its permission to proceed with building 144 housing units in the neighborhood of Har Homa C, and another 40 in Pisgat Ze'ev. With the permits in hand, ground work on the housing projects can now begin.

At the start of the week, Jerusalem approved construction on two lots in the neighborhood of Ramot – also beyond the Green Line - for the defense and police forces. Sources in the Jerusalem city hall say the lots were handed over to the housing administration of the Israel Defense Forces and police in order to prevent Haredi elements from getting them.

"City hall evidently thinks that the big boys are preoccupied with Ukraine and Crimea, and won't notice these plans," said Yosef Allo of Meretz, an opposition figure in the Jerusalem city council. "Or, the city of Jerusalem thinks that the prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, has given up and the chances of reaching an agreement are negligible. The municipality knows perfectly well that building beyond the Green Line, especially in Har Homa, hurts the chances of reaching an arrangement with the Palestinians, and reduces [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry's ability to achieve what we all want – an agreement in which we separate the Jewish neighborhoods from the Arab neighborhoods, with two capitals. We are going to lose our last hope. Kerry isn't looking for a Nobel prize. He's looking to achieve peace."

A month ago Catherine Ashton, foreign policy chief for the European Union, condemned an Israeli decision to issue permits for 558 new apartments in East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line. She said she was "deeply concerned" by the Jerusalem municipal authorities' approval of building permits for housing in East Jerusalem, Har Homa, Neveh Yaakov and Pisgat Ze’ev, saying it could put the prospects of Jerusalem becoming the capital of two states at risk.