Plans for Itamar settlement to be expanded by 538 housing units. The decision was made 2 years ago, following the Fogel family murder.
Housing Ministry statistics show that no new housing has been put up for sale in east Jerusalem since the beginning of the year.
By Efrat Forsher
Shortly before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry returns to the Middle East in an attempt to renew negotiations, Israel’s planning bodies continue to move ahead with plans to expand the Itamar settlement by 538 housing units.
The entrance to the Itamar community in Judea and Samaria – Photo: Oren Nachson
Objections to the plan, which would increase the size of the settlement by a factor of five, are being heard this week.
In addition, retroactive approval will be given to about 130 housing units that were built in the settlement without permits.
The decision to build in Itamar was made following the murder of the Fogel family two and a half years ago.
Official Israeli figures show that housing starts in Judea and Samaria rose significantly in the first three months of 2013 compared with the same period last year. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, building in the settlements jumped from 313 housing starts between January and March last year to 865 in the same period this year.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel confirmed on Thursday morning that not a single housing unit had been built in the Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem since the beginning of the year. “This is very problematic,” said Ariel. “The facts speak for themselves. You have to ask the Prime Minister’s Office about this issue.”
This week it was revealed on Army Radio that the Prime Minister’s Office is being accused of freezing construction in east Jerusalem since the establishment of the government, and they say fear of international criticism is causing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to break his promises to voters.
At a Likud-Beytenu conference, Netanyahu said, “We will continue to live and build in Jerusalem, which will always remain united under Israeli sovereignty.”
Last week, the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Ofir Akunis, spoke about construction in Jerusalem in the Knesset plenary. He said there is no policy of postponing construction in the capital. “There is no decision, there was no decision and there will be no decision on freezing building in Jerusalem,” he said.
But according to Army Radio, Housing Ministry statistics reveal that not a single housing unit has been put on the market on the other side of the Green Line since the beginning of the year.