Israel caves to US pressure, cancels plans for newly approved Jerusalem neighborhood

Israel reportedly assured Washington that construction of a new neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem will not proceed, despite committee approval.

By World Israel News Staff

The Jerusalem Municipality on Wednesday, through the City Council’s Planning and Building Committee, gave initial approval for construction of a new neighborhood on the site of the abandoned Atarot Airport in eastern Jerusalem.

The airport was closed during the 2000 Palestinian Intifada.

The neighborhood was planned for the construction of 9,000 homes as well as space for hotels, commercial buildings and open spaces on an area of roughly 1,243 dunams (307 acres).

“We passed the first main hurdle to get the Atarot neighborhood approved (they also approved our project to create an aviation museum and visitor’s center in the Old airport terminal by 5-4 votes),” Chaim Silberstein, founder and director of public diplomacy organization Keep Jerusalem, stated Wednesday evening.

“Let’s pray that in two weeks at the district committee, the neighborhood will also be approved.  That is the main vote. This is a very important strategic goal for Jerusalem,” he stated.

The Interior Ministry District Planning Committee was expected to make a decision on the project on December 6.

However, Israel has assured Washington that the project will not be advanced at this time, despite the initial boost, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.

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The reported cancellation of the plan “marks the first time since Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took office in May that he has appeared to acquiesce to U.S. pressure to hold off on Jewish construction over the pre-1967 lines,” the Post noted.

Hagit Ofran of the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said a district planning committee meeting at which the project was expected to be approved has been cancelled, meaning “the plan is off the table for now, “Associated Press reported.

Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum said she was not aware of any move to shelve the project, AP reported.