Vote on Hundreds of New Homes in Ramot, Ramat Shlomo Canceled

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
A new apartment building complex in the southern Yerushalayim neighborhood of Gilo. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

A Yerushalayim municipal committee canceled plans to vote on Wednesday on approving permits for the construction of nearly 500 Jewish homes in Ramot and Ramat Shlomo, a city official said, plans that had drawn U.S. criticism in a raging dispute over settlements.

The proposed building projects are part of building activity that the U.N. Security Council demanded an end to on Friday, a resolution that a U.S. abstention made possible.

Chanan Rubin, a member of the municipality Planning and Housing Committee, told Reuters that the request to put off the vote came from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Rubin said the decision stemmed from a desire to avoid straining relations further with the Obama administration before a speech later in the day by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Rubin said 492 permits for construction of homes in Ramot and Ramat Shlomo had been up for approval.

Voting on the new building permits was removed from the committee’s agenda for the session “because of Kerry’s speech. The prime minister said that while he supports construction in Yerushalayim, we don’t have to inflame the situation any further,” Rubin said.

The committee meets regularly, and it could consider approving the permits at a future date.