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Friday, June 12, 2009

Jerusalem plan nixed over too much zoning for Arabs

By Mohammed Mar’i

RAMALLAH: Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai has instructed his ministry staff to nix a master plan for Jerusalem on the grounds that it allocates too much territory for Palestinian construction, the daily Haaretz reported yesterday.

In recent days Yishai instructed Ruth Yosef, tapped as the ministry’s new supervisor for Jerusalem, to shelve the program - the fruit of several years of labor by dozens of Israeli architects.

According to the report, the master plan was intended to outline the city’s development over the next few decades and to remedy a situation in which, since 1959, the controversial city has not been developed according to a comprehensive agenda.

The plan emphasizes, among other things, increased building in the eastern part of the city. It calls for the construction of 13,500 more housing units for the city’s Palestinian population, particularly in the neighborhoods of Al-Tour, Beit Hanina, Shoafat and Jabal Al-Mukkaber, and for developing those neighborhoods’ infrastructure.

The outline was submitted to an Interior Ministry committee for approval, but city officials discovered this week that Yishai had ordered that the program not be authorized, lest significant portions of the eastern city areas be designated for Palestinian construction. Instead, the interior minister threw his support behind another program, drafted in 2000, which set aside less territory for new construction in Palestinian neighborhoods.

City officials expressed frustration at Yishai’s decision. They said the Interior Ministry also recently canceled a specific program allowing the construction of a new Arab neighborhood along the city’s southern outskirts, in an area known as the “Gates of Bethlehem.”

Source : Arab News

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