Municipal committee advances eastern Jerusalem project

A Jerusalem municipal committee advanced a building plan for eastern Jerusalem that stirred a furor when it was approved during a 2010 visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

The Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee on Dec. 17 approved the plan to build some 1,500 apartments in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem. At the committee’s request, the plan was downsized from its original configuration of more than 1,600 units. The builders also must preserve a nearby archaeological site.

Construction reportedly is still years away.

The Jerusalem municipality had approved the plan in March 2010 during a visit by Biden, causing a diplomatic uproar, after which the project was frozen. Israel’s interior minister gave his final approval to the project in August 2011.

Discussion of the project was moved up after the U.N. General Assembly voted for enhanced statehood status for the Palestinians on Nov. 29.

The latest approval follows the announcement of plans to build 3,000 new housing units in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem that evoked reprimands from the United States, a number of European countries and the United Nations. — jta