JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly approved planning for at least 1,000 new housing units in Jewish neighbourhoods of eastern Jerusalem.
At least 600 of the apartments will be in Ramat Shlomo and 400 in Har Homa, according to Israeli media reports citing unnamed officials. The approval is only for the planning of the housing units, not the building of them.
Netanyahu also reportedly ordered the advancement of infrastructure projects in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including the paving of roads, which will serve Israelis and Palestinians.
Reports of the approvals, which the Prime Minister’s Office has not officially announced or commented on, came a day after Israel’s Channel 2 reported that the government is planning to build 2,000 more housing units in settlement blocs in the West Bank. Those plans, as well as the infrastructure improvements in the West Bank, reportedly are to appease Netanyahu’s coalition partner, the Jewish Home party.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, criticized the reported plan to build new homes in the West Bank.
“This plan will lead to a serious crisis in Israel-U.S. relations and will harm Israel’s standing in the world,” he said.
Lapid added that while he doesn’t oppose building in the major settlement blocs, the timing of the proposals will hurt Israel.