The Jerusalem District Committee will expedite its discussion on the construction of nearly 1,000 new apartments beyond the Green Line, despite criticism expressed by the United States and the European Union.
The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee on Monday approved the construction of 942 housing units in the Gilo neighborhood in the south of the city.
The decision of the district committee, which answers to the Interior Ministry, to debate the matter on Tuesday means just over a week will have passed between the two votes. Under standard procedure, the district committee would have waited months before bringing to its agenda matters approved by the planning and building committee.
If the district committee approves the proposal, the public will have the opportunity to voice opposition. The construction plan was proposed by the Jerusalem Development Authority, and not by a private initiator.
The State Department chastised the building plans, warning that further construction in East Jerusalem would be detrimental to building good faith between Israel and the Palestinians.
The lack of resolution to the conflict "harms Israel, harms the Palestinians, and harms the interests of the United States and the international community”, the State Department said.
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said on Wednesday that she was "deeply disappointed" by Israel's approval of new settlement building in East Jerusalem.
"The actions taken by the Israeli Government contravene repeated and urgent calls by the international community, including the Quartet, and run counter to achieving a peaceful solution that will preserve Israel’s security and realize the Palestinians’ right to statehood," Ashton said in a statement.
On the same day that the planning committee approved the construction, Haaretz was informed that Defense Minister Ehud Barak plans to sign off on four settlement development plans.
The Defense Ministry, however, has only confirmed a new zoning plan for one of the four settlements.
The plans Barak is reportedly considering approval for are for the settlements of Rotem, Eshkolot-Sansana, Halamish-Neve Tzuf, Nofim, and Kiryat Netafim.
All of the above settlements were founded following a government decision, and all of their lands are converted state lands.
The plans set to be signed will in fact perpetuate the status quo in these settlements, disallowing any new legal construction, making the planned signing more of a symbolic achievement.
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