The Interior Ministry approved the building of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, a ministry statement said on Tuesday.
The units are to be constructed, according to the ministry statement, in addition to the ultra-Orthodox Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, expanding it both to the east and to the south.
The statement, released by the Interior Ministry’s Jerusalem district planning committee, headed by Ruth Yosef, said that at least 30 percent of the units will be allocated to young couples.
Public facilities and spaces which were, the statement said, lacking in the existing parts of the neighborhood, are also to be added as part of the new plan, including a new central park.
Meir Margalit, Meretz’s representative to the Jerusalem city council, claimed that the statement was meant to disrupt a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, saying that he had “no doubt that the timing isn’t coincidental,” calling the announcement Interior Minister “Eli Yishai’s answer to Netanyahu’s willingness to renew indirect peace talks with the Palestinians.”
Minister Yishai failed to comment over the statement, although sources in the Interior Ministry have said that the timing of the statement was purely coincidental.