Municipal committee advances eastern Jerusalem project

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jerusalem municipal committee advanced a building plan for eastern Jerusalem that stirred a furor when it was approved during a 2010 visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

The Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee on Monday approved the plan to build some 1,500 apartments in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem. At the committee’s request, tThe plan was downsized from its original more than 1,600 units. The builders also must preserve a nearby archeological site.

Construction reportedly is still years away, as the project must pass through more stages of the planning process.

The Palestinian Authority said it would call for a United Nations Security Council meeting over the approval of the plans.

The Jerusalem municipality had approved the plan in March 2010 during a visit by Biden, causing a diplomatic uproar, after which the project was frozen.

Israel’s interior minister gave his final approval to the project in August 2011.

Discussion of the Ramat Shlomo project was moved up after the approval by the United Nations General Assembly of enhanced statehood status for the Palestinians.

The approval follows the announcement of plans to build 3,000 new housing units in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem that evoked reprimands from the United States, a number of European countries and the United Nations.

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