Israel revives settlement plans after Trump win
Jerusalem: Israel revived plans on Wednesday to build 500 new homes for Jewish settlers in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, an ominous sign for Palestinians wary of a Donald Trump presidency, an NGO said.
“The political significance of this action is that it is the first plan to be promoted since the US elections,” Betty Herschman from the Ir Amim NGO said.
The plan for 500 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in east Jerusalem of around 20,000, had been on hold since 2014, Ir Amim said.
The Jerusalem municipality downplayed the significance of the new housing units, saying the plans were “not new and were approved years ago”.
Nevertheless, the announcement is likely to be interpreted by some as a first step in Israel expanding its settlements in the wake of Trump´s upset election victory.
Israeli right-wingers hailed his triumph as ushering in an administration far less critical of settlement expansion than that of outgoing President Barack Obama´s.
The president-elect´s adviser on Israel, David Friedman, told AFP last month that he does not believe Trump sees Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank as illegal.
One Israeli minister said Trump´s win meant “the era of a Palestinian state is over” while Meir Turjeman, chairman of the Jerusalem municipality planning committee, told public radio earlier in November that it meant suspended permits in east Jerusalem would be given the green light.
He said the municipality intended to authorise thousands of housing units that had been frozen.