JERUSALEM — A U.S. Jewish real estate baron authorized to build a Jewish enclave in the heart of an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem said Sunday that attempts to block the plan are "racist."
Irving Moskowitz, a Miami-based businessman who bankrolls Jewish settlement in areas occupied by Israel, last week was granted a Jerusalem municipality permit to build about 65 apartments in Ras al Amud, an Arab neighborhood.
"This is not a political issue. It's a simple issue of the right of a property owner to build on his property," Moskowitz told Israel's Army Radio in his first public comments since the Jerusalem municipality ruled. "To deny it because I am Jewish and Arabs are opposed to it is racism."
Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians have condemned the plan as a dire threat to peace. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will try to block the project.