The election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States has opened the floodgates for a wave of illegal settlement construction in East Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem municipality is poised to authorize the creation of thousands of new housing units in territories considered under international law to have been illegally occupied for decades. These include 1,400 new apartments in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, 3,000 in Gilo and 2,600 in the new neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, the Times of Israel reports.
The 7,000 units had been unofficially frozen for much of the administration of current US President Barack Obama, Chairman of the Jerusalem Municipality Planning and Construction Committee Meir Turgeman said last week, according to the Times of Israel.
“Now that Trump [won], I hope we will put Jerusalem as a priority, I hope we are heading for a fresh start,” Turgeman said after the election. Obama has said that continued settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem undermines efforts to resolve the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An official speaking with the country’s Channel 2 station said the country is behaving as though Trump is already in office – despite not knowing what his actual policies will be. Though members of Trump’s staff have been accused of anti-Semitism, the Republican is perceived as very friendly to Israel. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his campaign, made a controversial vow to move America’s embassy to Jerusalem, and has generally otherwise indicated rhetorically that his sympathies lie with Israel.