Israel intends to build 15,000 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem, the Housing Ministry said on Friday despite U.S. President Donald Trump's request to "hold back" on settlements as part of a possible new push for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
A formal announcement of the settlement plan, quickly condemned by the chief Palestinian negotiator, could come around the time Trump is scheduled to visit Israel next month. The U.S. leader met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington in February and is to see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on May 3. In January, two days after Trump took office, Netanyahu said he was lifting restrictions on settlement construction in East Jerusalem, just as the city's municipality approved building permits for hundreds of new homes.
Israel views all of Jerusalem as its "eternal and indivisible capital", but the Palestinians also want a capital there. Most of the world considers Jerusalem's status an issue that must be decided through negotiations. The last peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014.
Housing Minister Yoav Galant told Israel Radio that his ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality had been working on the plan for two years, with proposals for 25,000 units, 15,000 of which would be in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed.