Wave of Construction Plans for East Jerusalem Being Advanced

July 6
District Committee Advances Plans in Ramat Shlomo, Ramot and Southern Perimeter

This morning (Thursday, July 6), three plans were deposited for objections by the District Planning and Building Committee.
Two of the plans – neither of which were included in the recent announcement of promotion of 1,700+ HU – are located along the northern perimeter of East Jerusalem, one each in Ramat Shlomo (TPS 11094) and Ramot (TPS 192815).  These plans will deepen Israel’s reach into the adjacent Palestinian area, further complicating the drawing of a border under any agreed political resolution on the city that would provide for the establishment of two capitals in Jerusalem.
The Ramat Shlomo plan for 500 housing units will expand the western part of the neighborhood north towards Beit Hanina.  The Ramot plan, for 152 housing units, will extend the neighborhood northeast toward the enclave of Beit Hanina al-Balad and Bir Nabala.  Please note light blue areas on attached map for reference – in Ramot, the isolated nob on the northeast edge and in Ramat Shlomo, the large finger along the northern rim.
In addition to these geopolitical considerations, the two plans violate the basic rights of the Palestinian population:
  • The Ramat Shlomo plan is promoted by Israeli developers claiming ownership of the land in question.  The original plan also includes Palestinian-owned land, in an area the developers have designated for a park and access road.  In order to overcome the legal prohibition against submitting a plan on land not owned by the applicant, the developers successfully engaged the Jerusalem Municipality to sign on as an additional applicant, thereby enabling the expropriation of private Palestinian land.  Despite this process contravening the Planning and Building Law, the District Committee approved the plan for deposit, circumventing the normal process of land reparcelization conducted to ensure an equitable distribution of land rights. Moreover, the Israeli developers have submitted no legal proof of ownership; most of the land in question is either legally disputed or the registration process is incomplete. 
  • The Ramot plan is the first step in expanding the neighborhood towards Bir Nabala.  Ir Amim has acquired documents showing plans are in preparation to expand the entire northern area of the settlement – this, then, is the first move toward consolidating control of the existing undeveloped area.  As can be seen on the map, the large open area between the Israeli settlement and the Bir Nabala enclave is already cut by the Separation Barrier, which completely encircles the enclave, isolating its residents from the surrounding Palestinian space and imposing severe economic hardship.

In addition to these two plans, the Committee promoted a plan with significant ramifications for the southern perimeter of East Jerusalem: Plan 285270, designed to expand the Tunnel Road in Jerusalem leading to the adjacent Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of the city. This project is the long-awaited bookmark to Begin Road South – the six-lane highway built through the heart of Beit Safafa and the last section needed to ensure one continuous expanse of highway linking the outlying settlement blocs of Gush Etzion in the south and Givat Ze’ev in the north to the city.  That goal has already been realized for the Ma’ale Adumim/E-1 bloc via Road #1.
The plan will widen the existing road as part of construction of an interchange connecting the Begin Highway – through Beit Safafa - to the Tunnel Road, thereby completing the constellation of infrastructure planned in service to the vision of a Greater Jerusalem.  The Israeli Ministry of Transportation has already earmarked funding for a new tunnel to be dug alongside the existing one, completion of which will double the number of lanes between Jerusalem and the settlements in the south of the West Bank.

On Wednesday (July 5), building permits for 80 housing units in Ramot and 98 in Ramat Shlomo (Biden plan) were awarded by the Local Planning and Building Committee. 


July 3

Historic Basin Targeted in Plans for 1,700 Housing Units in East Jerusalem Advancing to District Committee​

Following recent reports that the Israeli government would be advancing the planning and building of some 7,000 housing units in East Jerusalem, plans for 1,700+ housing units are now being promoted, including a revival of projects in the highly sensitive Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Several plans are already slated for discussion by the District Planning and Building Committee for Wednesday, July 4th.
The preponderance of new plans is within the established neighborhood/settlements in East Jerusalem, including:
  • 948 units in Pisgat Ze’ev, reported last week
  • 200 housing units in Ramot
  • 270 in Gilo  

The most problematic of the plans involve those being advanced in Sheikh Jarrah, long a hotbed of radical private settlement activity within the Historic Basin.  In addition to putting new facts on the ground in the most contested area of East Jerusalem, several of these plans call for demolition of Palestinian homes and displacement of Palestinian residents, some of whom enjoy protected tenancy status.  Two plans are being promoted by City Councilman Arieh King, also the founder and director of the Israel Land Fund - according to its website, devoted to the “recovery and preservation of Jewish land in East Jerusalem.”
Of key importance is the Glassman Campus (see map), which has been dormant in the planning system for several years.  The plan (TPS 68858) calls for a new 7-story building at the entrance of Sheikh Jarrah designed to serve as a yeshiva and dormitories. Despite the fact that the master plan for the area designates the plot for public buildings to benefit the local population, the Municipality has demonstrated strenuous support for the plan.  In the version now moving forward, space on the first floor has been allocated for services in an apparent effort to resolve this planning dilemma.
The significance of the Glassman project cannot be stressed enough. Creation of a residential compound housing dozens of young religious men at the entrance to Sheikh Jarrah will exacerbate simmering tensions in the neighborhood while strengthening settlers’ hold on this Palestinian neighborhood.  Together with King’s projects, as well as plans for a new Bituach Leumi building and office building, these plans will form a block of settlement from the entrance to Sheikh Jarrah deep into the neighborhood.
The batch of plans for 1,700+ housing units now advancing to the District Committee does not include Givat Hamatos – a long-recognized red line for the international community – or Har Homa West, a plan yet to be initiated which would link Har Homa with Givat Hamatos to complete Israel’s consolidation of the southern perimeter of East Jerusalem.  
The simultaneous lack of restraint in the Historic Basin through the revival of plans in Sheikh Jarrah is of paramount concern – signaling, as it does, the government’s continued determination to exert its sovereignty over the Historic Basin in advance of prospective negotiations.