Wary of Biden, Israel goes quiet while advancing major East Jerusalem projects

Thousands of homes going up in controversial Givat Hamatos neighborhood, and many more units set for approval in other areas; US says it is formulating reaction

15 October 2021

Israel is quietly advancing controversial construction projects in and around Jerusalem without making major announcements that could anger the Biden administration. Critics say the latest moves, while incremental, pave the way for rapid growth once the political climate changes.

On Wednesday, as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with US officials in Washington, a local planning committee in Jerusalem approved the expropriation of public land for the controversial Givat Hamatos neighborhood, which would largely cut Palestinian parts of East Jerusalem off from the southern West Bank.

The same committee advanced plans for the construction of 470 homes in the existing East Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev. Authorities have scheduled a December 6 hearing for another project in East Jerusalem to build 9,000 homes in the Atarot area on the city’s northeastern edge, according to Ir Amim, an Israeli rights group that closely follows developments in the city.

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