Netanyahu Holding Back East Jerusalem Construction, City Official Says

Meir Turgeman quotes housing minister as saying Netanyahu opposes building in controversial Givat Hamatos.

The Givat Hamatos neighborhood in southern Jerusalem, on July 4, 2016.
Thomas Coex/AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still holding back construction in a controversial East Jerusalem site, the city’s deputy mayor said, despite claims by Netanyahu there are no more restrictions on construction around the capital.

Meir Turgeman, one of several capital deputy mayors and holder of the city’s housing and construction porfolio, told local media that Housing Minister Yoav Galant told him that Netanyahu asked not to advance building plans in the city’s Givat Hamatos neighborhood.

“I asked [Galant] why wasn’t construction in Givat Hamatos moving ahead? We don’t have too much free land,” Turgeman stated. “And then he surprised me: He said that last week he gave a green light for developing Givat Hamatos, but that a day later he received a call from the Prime Minister’s Office asking him not to advance the program.”

The plan for Givat Hamatos – which angered the Obama administration – calls for 2,600 new housing units east of the Palestinian village of Beit Safafa, which would give Israel territorial contiguity from Har Homa to Gilo and cut East Jerusalem off from Bethlehem and the southern West Bank.

The Housing Ministry refused to comment on Turgeman’s statement and no response was received from Prime Minister’s Office.