Israel planning to build 1,100 homes in East Jerusalem

Israel Materials 12 February 2008 14:39 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Israel plans to build over 1,100 housing units in East Jerusalem, and the tenders for the construction will be published soon, a cabinet minister said Tuesday.

Housing Minister Zeev Boim told Israel Radio that 370 units will be built in the controversial neighbourhood of Har Homa, and 750 will be constructed in another East Jerusalem location, Pisgat Zeev.

An Israeli announcement in early December, that it will build 300 homes in Har Homa, very nearly derailed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which were just about to get started after a seven-year hiatus.

Both Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev lie in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed shortly afterwards, but which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.

Although Israel regards the two neighbourhoods as being within the expanded Jerusalem city limits, Palestinians accord them the same status as West Bank settlements, which are regarded as illegal under international law.

Boim told Israel Radio that while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he wants to personally authorize building projects in the West bank, this directive did not apply to East Jerusalem.

"There is nothing about construction in Jerusalem," he said. "We are building all over within the Jerusalem municipal borders."