Jeursalem, June 15 (IANS) The city’s civic body on Wednesday approved the construction of a controversial building for Jews in a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, Israeli officials said.
The permit by Jerusalem’s Local Planning and Building Committee approved a new four-storey building in Silwan, a neighbourhood across from the flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque compound, Xinhua reported.
A statement by the municipality said “the city will continue to build in all areas”.
Israeli human rights watchdog, Ir Amim (“City of Nations”) said the project is an enterprise of Ateret Cohanim, a settler organisation that has constructed buildings and taken over existing Palestinian buildings in Silwan in order to “Judaize” the neighbourhood.
The permit is a “major step” in Ateret Cohanim’s campaign to oust Palestinians from Silwan and to “supplant it with a new settler enclave”, Ir Amim said.
The move was expected to trigger also international criticism.
Israel seized East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast War. It later annexed it and declared it as part of its “eternal and indivisible capital”, in a move that has never been recognised by the international community.
Palestinians, who makes up more than a third of the city’s overall population, consider East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Hundreds of Jewish settlers, who object the possible division of the city, live under heavy guard in enclaves in the Palestinian neighbourhoods.
The approval came amidst a nine-month-long Palestinian uprising, which saw the death of at least 205 Palestinians and 33 Israelis.