(JTA) – The Jerusalem municipality announced that it will approve 800 new homes in Jewish areas of eastern Jerusalem within the next month, prompting an expression of concern from the White House about “unrestrained” building. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, according to The Associated Press, said Wednesday that construction in Jerusalem is “essential, important and will continue in full force.”
Following the announcement, a White House official expressed concerns about settlement building. “President Trump has publicly and privately expressed his concerns regarding settlements and the Administration has made clear that unrestrained settlement activity does not advance the prospect for peace,” the official said in an email to JTA. “At the same time the Administration recognizes that past demands for a settlement freeze have not helped advance peace talks.”
In February, Trump called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to slow settlement construction, and last month his son-in-law and top aide, Jared Kushner, visited Israeli and Palestinian leaders to assess the prospects for restarting peace talks.
CAP: Construction cranes at a building site in Neve Yaakov in the northern area of east Jerusalem in 2016. AFP PHOTO AHMAD GHARABLI