The election of Donald Trump has led to the fast-tracking of plans to build 1,400 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo as Israel anticipates an end to the “de facto” building freeze in place during the Obama administration.
An official from the Jerusalem municipality said the construction in Ramat Shlomo, which is located past the Green Line, is set to be approved in light of Trump’s victory. Trump is widely expected to ease the US’s hardline anti-settlement policy, which led to frosty relations between the two allies over the past eight years and strangled building in Judea and Samaria.
“In Jerusalem, it’s as if Trump is already in office,” said the municipality official on Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported. “The problem is that nobody knows what his policies will actually be.”
He dismissed any denouncement from the lame-duck administration. “Even if the [current] State Department or White House issues a condemnation, it won’t be worth much at this point.”
Construction in Ramat Shlomo has been hotly contested under Obama’s State Department, which claims that building Jewish homes in East Jerusalem threatens the possibility of a two-state solution.
However, as the official pointed out, “Anyone who has been to Ramot Shlomo knows that in any possible peace agreement – even peace plans put forward by the Palestinians – this neighborhood will stay a part of Israel.
“In no way does this [construction] hinder the possibility of moving forward in peace.”
In addition to the Ramat Shlomo units, 3,000 units are planned for Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, and 2,600 for the Givat Hamatos neighborhood, making up a total of over 7,000 new housing units for Jewish residents in Israel’s capital city.
In stark contrast to the diplomatic feud which accompanied the issue under Obama, Trump has promised that his administration will empower Israel to build. A Trump spokesman said shortly after the election that the president-elect “does not define settlements as obstacles to peace.”
Israeli settler leaders insist that there is “no question” Trump is supportive of the settlement movement and anticipate a “revolution in action” regarding Israel’s approach to building Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
However, the question of settlement under Trump has already sparked infighting in the Knesset between right-wingers, moderates, and leftists.
MK Nachman Shai, of the Zionist Union, said in response to reports of the Ramat Shlomo construction that whoever approves the measure is “out of his mind.”
Shai argued that the move would alienate Israel on the international stage and would be equivalent to “sticking a finger in the eyes of the incoming and outgoing American government.”