Jerusalem: In a move that could trigger more political tension in the war-torn country, Israel called for construction of nearly 700 new apartments in the disputed areas of East Jerusalem even after Prime Minister Netanyahu declared a 10-month freeze on construction activities here.
Israel’s Housing Ministry has invited contractors to bid on the construction of 198 housing units in Pisgat Zeev, 377 homes in Neve Ya’akov and 117 dwellings in Har Homa neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem.
These are areas that the Palestinians call settlements and argue that such constructions are bound to jeopardise efforts to renew the stalled peace process in the region.
Mr. Netanyahu declared a 10-month freeze on construction activities a few weeks ago and did not include areas of the city for moratorium.
“We make a distinction between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital and remains such,” government spokesman Mark Regev said on Monday. The Jewish state captured East Jerusalem — home to Jews, Christians and Muslims — in the 1967 war.
The announcement comes amid reports that the U.S. is aware of such plans and the timing of the announcement is carefully chosen using the Christmas holidays in America and Europe.
The U.S. knew of the plan in advance, including the location of each housing unit, government officials were quoted by Ynet as saying in a surprising revelation. — PTI