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Report: Israel plans 50,000 homes in East Jerusalem

Nov. 7, 2011 4:23 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 10, 2011 9:46 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's Jerusalem municipality plans to build more than 50,000 new homes in the city's occupied eastern sector over two decades, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

A study commissioned by Israel's Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat to address housing shortages in the city, obtained by Hebrew daily Maariv, shows designs for 60,718 housing units in the city, with the majority -- 52,363 homes -- planned for East Jerusalem.

Most of the city's land available for construction lies in the eastern sector, with West Jerusalem lacking viable sites, the study says. Israel annexed East Jerusalem -- regarded as the capital of a future Palestinian state -- in a 1967 war, and its control over the area is not recognized by the international community.

According to Maariv, the study shows:

-- 23,628 homes have already been approved, 20,263 in East Jerusalem and 3,365 in the west.

-- 13,824 are pending review, 12,819 in East Jerusalem and 1,005 in the west.

-- 23,266 housing units are still in planning stages, 19,281 in the east and 3,985 in the west.

Of these, the municipality plans:

-- 10,366 homes in northern East Jerusalem, including illegal Israeli settlement Pisgat Zeev and Palestinian town Beit Hanina.

-- 5,239 homes in southern East Jerusalem, including Gilo settlement and Palestinian district Beit Safafa.

-- 4,886 new units in central eastern Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan and Jerusalem's Old City.

A spokesperson for Israel's Jerusalem municipality told Maariv the construction of tens of thousands of homes over the next 20 years will "allow young couples and families to purchase apartments in the city."

The vast majority of land on which Jerusalem is built, including the settlements in the city's occupied eastern sector, is state land, and the property built on it can be purchased by anyone who is an Israeli citizen, or who is Jewish.

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, very few of whom have Israeli citizenship, must first obtain a special permit to purchase land or property there. Rights groups say such permission is virtually unheard of.
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