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Israel Panel to Let Arabs Build 3,400 Homes in Jerusalem

May 23, 1997| From Associated Press

JERUSALEM — An Israeli planning commission decided Thursday to permit 3,400 homes for Arabs to be built in Jerusalem near a controversial housing project for Jews.

But a Palestinian legislator said the decision would not end the crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations set off by the 6,000-home Jewish project. Groundbreaking for the project began in March and sparked Palestinian protests.

The Jerusalem District Planning Commission approved granting building permits for 3,000 private housing units and a 400-unit public housing project in the Arab neighborhood of Sur Baher in southern Jerusalem.

The Palestinian neighborhood adjoins the hill--known as Jabal Abu Ghneim in Arabic and Har Homa in Hebrew--where the Jewish homes are to be built.

Mati Huti, chairman of the planning commission, said it was the first time building would be allowed on such a scale in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem. He said the commission had ordered the plans implemented quickly so that the construction would take place concurrently with the Jewish housing project.

"I hope it placates the population, but it isn't being done to placate," Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert said. "It is being done because it is just."

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