Israel has approved building of about 100 settlement homes at the same site where settlement expansion plans unveiled during a 2010 visit by then-US vice president Joe Biden angered Washington, an NGO said on Thursday.
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Anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now told AFP that plans for 96 homes in the east Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo were given the green light by the municipal planning committee on Tuesday.
In March 2010, the Jewish state announced plans to build 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo, which adjoins the Palestinian neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina.
That announcement came as Biden, now US President-elect, was visiting Israel, provoking fierce US opposition and souring ties with Washington for months.
“After straining relations with Biden and the US in 2010 over the approval of settlement units in Ramat Shlomo, one would think that Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu would at least try not to remind the incoming Biden administration of that time,” Peace Now spokesman Brian Reeves said.
“Approving units in the exact same location, just as Biden is about to enter office, is both counter to Israel’s interests and recklessly provocative toward Biden personally.”
Israeli public radio put the number of homes approved in Ramat Shlomo at 108.
President Donald Trump broke with decades of US practice by not criticizing Jewish settlement construction in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem or the occupied West Bank.
Right-wing groups in Israel have raised fears a Biden administration will renew criticism of settlements.
The left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz said on Thursday that the Jerusalem municipality was deliberately pushing construction while settlement-friendly Trump is still in office.
“Jerusalem City Hall and the Israel Lands Authority have been identifying and expediting approval of building plans,” the paper wrote.
“Once the administration in Washington changes, the municipality and the Lands Authority expect a construction freeze.”
Israel captured mainly Arab east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day war and later annexed it, in a move not recognized by the international community.
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