|Tomorrow, January 5, the Jerusalem Local Planning Committee is expected to discuss four new outline plans initiated by the Israel Land Authority for the construction of a total of 3,702 housing units for Israeli neighborhoods, the majority of which will be located over the Green Line in Jerusalem. Beyond the fact that no similar planning has been advanced for Palestinian neighborhoods, the plans have been prepared in a way which violates the property and housing rights of East Jerusalem residents. Moreover, as a result of the sharp discrimination in urban planning of Palestinian areas, it should be noted that 134 housing units in East Jerusalem were demolished over the course of 2021, marking the second highest annual figure in two decades. Already within the first four days of 2022, four Palestinian homes have been razed.
The four outline plans to be discussed at the Local Planning Committee are as follows:
1. TPS 808840 calls for the construction of 1,465 housing units on an area comprised of 186 dunams sandwiched between Har Homa, Givat Hamatos and Ramat Rachel and bordering the western side of the Palestinian neighborhood of Sur Baher (see map below). The new Israeli neighborhood/settlement is designated for land on both sides of the Green Line. According to the plan, an access road to the new neighborhood will be built over the Green Line on private Palestinian land belonging to residents of Umm Tuba. These lands will likely be expropriated. Despite the probable expropriation, the plan does not offer any development for the remaining privately-owned Palestinian land and will likewise not grant building rights to Palestinian landowners for areas alongside the road not intended for expropriation.
As part of measures to reduce poverty in East Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Municipality along with the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs initiated a plan two years ago for the establishment of a major Palestinian business center for this precise area, but was shelved due to strong rightwing pushback. The Israel Land Authority now intends to expropriate the area to serve the new Israeli neighborhood.
Not only is this yet another example of severe planning discrimination, but construction of this new neighborhood will serve to further create Israeli territorial contiguity along East Jerusalem's southern perimeter while depleting more land reserves for Palestinian development.