Netanyahu Denies Building Plans

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied on Sunday a media report that Israel is going ahead with planning for some 24,000 units beyond the Green Line, including some 1,200 in the E1 area between Ma’ale Adumim and Yerushalayim.

Netanyahu had reportedly countermanded a Housing Ministry directive three weeks ago giving the green light to the building amid condemnations from the U.S. and the EU. He said at the time that the announcement of what was only preliminary planning would do nothing to promote housing in the region but a great deal to antagonize the international community while Israel was working intensively for an improvement in the Iran deal.

Yet on Friday a story in the Israeli media claimed that the planning process was going ahead and that tenders for the projects were going to close this week, circumventing the prime minister’s orders.

An official in the Prime Minister’s Office, however, said that the story was  incorrect.

“The prime minister’s instruction not to advance preliminary procedures for planning, as published on November 12 in Yehudah and Shomron and E1, is being fulfilled,” he said.