Israel backs controversial East Jerusalem housing project amid US pressure – India Times Hindi News

Israel informed Biden administration officials on Thursday that it has postponed a controversial plan to advance a major housing project in the East Jerusalem neighborhood after pushback from Washington, a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel confirmed.

The project, which received preliminary approval from a municipal planning committee earlier this week, will see 9,000 housing units for ultra-Orthodox Jews built at an abandoned airport in the neighborhood beyond the Green Line.

This plan was also cut from the agenda of the planning committee meeting to be held on Tuesday.

Following the approval of the Atarot plan earlier this week, US State Department officials arrived in Jerusalem to express their disapproval. Israeli officials tried to explain that Wednesday’s progress was a preliminary step and that final approval would take months, if not years, but Washington was not convinced, an Israeli official said.

The project in Atarot was stalled for more than a decade, and even the Trump administration pushed back against Israel’s efforts to pursue it after the area was handed over to the Palestinians in a previous White House peace plan Was. It has been declared a tourist area.

The abandoned Atarot airport lies between the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Kafr Aqab and the Qalandiya refugee camp in the city’s far northwest corner, largely beyond the West Bank security barrier. Those neighborhoods have been largely neglected by Israeli authorities for decades, with Palestinian residents receiving limited services there.

The abandoned Atarot airport, north of Jerusalem, on November 25, 2021. (Yonton Sindel/Flash 90)

Opponents of the project argue that it would hinder efforts to advance a two-state solution by splitting a large part of East Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.

Initial support for the Atarot project came in the form of Israel. Quietly moving forward with controversial construction projects Without making any major announcements in and around Jerusalem that could anger the Biden administration. Critics say the latest moves, while incremental, pave the way for rapid growth following a change in the political climate.

Last month, a local planning committee in Jerusalem approved the acquisition of public land for the controversial Givat Hamatos neighborhood, which critics say would cut off Palestinian parts of East Jerusalem from the southern West Bank.

The same committee plans to build 470 homes in the existing East Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ziv.

Meanwhile, a military body scheduled meetings to discuss the planned settlement of 3,400 homes on a barren hill outside Jerusalem E1. is referred to asCritics say that construction in the region would effectively separate the northern and southern parts of the West Bank, making it impossible to establish a viable Palestinian state with Israel.

Israel considers the whole of East Jerusalem to be part of its undivided capital and says it should be able to build there at its own discretion. But most of the international community has never recognized Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and regards Jewish neighborhoods there as settlements.

Each Israeli government since 1967 has expanded Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and settlements in the West Bank, areas that Israel occupied that year in the Six-Day War and which Palestine seeks for its future state. , Palestinians view settlements and Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem – which is now home to some 700,000 people – as the main obstacles to peace, and most of the international community considers them illegal.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has criticized settlement building as an obstacle to restarting the long-running peace process, but has not sought to halt it. In 2010, the announcement of approval of some 1,600 homes for ultra-Orthodox Jews in another part of East Jerusalem during a visit by then-Vice President Biden sparked a diplomatic rift that spread during Barack Obama’s presidency. Was.

Israel’s political system is dominated by pro-settlement parties and the new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is opposed to a Palestinian state. But he leads an overwhelming coalition of parties from across the political spectrum – some oppose settlements – and seems to be looking for a middle ground that bypasses the issue at home and abroad.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.