JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—Israel’s government has announced plans to approve the construction of 2,700 housing units in the eastern part of Jerusalem. Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai is expected to approve the two housing projects sometime next week, clearing the way for the construction of 2,000 housing units in Givat Hamatos and another 700 housing units in the annexed portion of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev.
This section of Pisgat Zeev was annexed as part of the Six Day War that occurred in 1967 between Israel and its neighbors in Syria, Jordan and Egypt. After a brief conflict, Israel took control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.
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The Israeli government says that these new housing settlements are necessary because the country is currently suffering a housing shortage. Pressure has been growing for Israel to lower the price of housing in the country as thousands of citizens have been forced to live in tent cities rather than pay the high costs of living.
However, many see Israel’s current plans to build new housing in southern and eastern Jerusalem as an attempt to block Palestine’s bid to attain statehood with the United Nations in September. Currently the international community does not view these neighborhoods as being Israeli settlements, but instead considers them to be occupied territories. If Palestine achieves independence it is assumed that East Jerusalem would be the new nation’s capital.
"It is now abundantly clear that with the continued illegal settlement expansion, Israel aims to turn its occupation of Palestine into a permanent annexation,” Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said in a statement on Thursday. “Without effective and proactive measures from the international community, Israel will be further encouraged to stay on the path of colonization and further entrench its enterprise of occupation, land grab, and impunity."