Tenders to build 1,500 units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of east Jerusalem have been delayed by at least three weeks, despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s announcement last week that there was no change in policy on settlement building in the area, Army Radio reported Monday.
Ramat Shlomo is one of five Jerusalem ring neighborhoods, along with Gilo, Ramot, Pisgat Zev, and East Talpiyot, which are located across the 1967 Green Line.
According to the report, government officials blamed Netanyahu for the delay, which they attributed to “political reasons.”
The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved the plan in December, although it was subject to certain amendments by the Israel Lands Administration, which were submitted to the Interior Ministry over three weeks ago.
Senior officials said that the Interior Ministry supervisor responsible for the process received instruction from the Prime Minister’s Office not the approve the plan due to “political sensitivity,” according to Army Radio.
The Prime Minister’s Office had not responded to the accusations.
Last week, Army Radio reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered a freeze in tenders for West Bank settlement construction amid a US push to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Two days later, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said there are no plans for a freeze on settlement construction. “We have proven in the past that stopping building does not result in peace and we will continue to build,” he said.
The project was a major source of international controversy as part of the “Biden Fiasco,” when the project was approved for deposit during the US vice president’s visit to Israel in March 2010. Following the incident, the Prime Minister’s Office instituted “increased mechanisms” to ensure they are involved and updated about all east Jerusalem building projects. The discussion is set for December 17 in the District Committee.
Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Ramat-Shlomo-building-plan-delayed-by-3-weeks-313000