Israel approves 153 more east Jerusalem settler homes
JERUSALEM: Israeli officials gave final approval on Thursday to 153 east Jerusalem settler homes, the deputy mayor said, adding to a sharp increase in such projects since US President Donald Trump took office.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman told AFP the approvals by a city planning committee were among those held up due to pressure from former US president Barack Obama’s administration.
Turgeman said developers “could start building from tomorrow”.
Following Trump’s inauguration, Turgeman spoke of plans for some 11,000 homes in process for annexed east Jerusalem.
“I’m going to deliver permits for thousands of homes in Jerusalem in the coming months,” Turgeman said.
Thursday’s approvals were for the settlement neighbourhood of Gilo.
Israel has announced a major settlement expansion in the days following Trump’s January 20 inauguration.
On Sunday, the city planning committee approved building permits for 566 settler homes in east Jerusalem.
Two days later, the defence ministry announced plans for 2,500 settler homes in the occupied West Bank.
Trump has pledged strong support for Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has moved quickly to take advantage.
In a telling break with the Obama administration, Trump’s White House has not condemned Israel’s settlement expansion.
The announcements have deeply concerned those seeking to salvage a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Settlements are viewed by much of the world as illegal and major stumbling blocks to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Obama’s administration, like much of the world, warned that settlement expansion was gradually eating away at prospects for a two-state solution.