If you can't see this newsletter properly click here

 Wave of Private Settlement Plans on Planning Committee Agendas


September 4, 2018


Tomorrow, September 5, the Local Planning and Building Committee will discuss a plan (TPS 610113) to construct 150 housing units on 10.3 dunams of land in the south of Beit Hanina. Although the plan was submitted by a private Israeli landowner, city councilor and settler leader Arieh King has long been driving promotion of the project.

If ultimately approved (tomorrow is the first of multiple stages in the planning process), this plan will enable an ideologically driven settler outpost in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood located on the northern perimeter of East Jerusalem that has remained relatively untouched by radical settlement within its limits. It will also enable contiguity between settlement in Beit Hanina and Ramat Shlomo.  See map for reference.


Prior to 1948, the land in question was purchased by Jews who donated it to the Hebrew University.  Due to legislation passed in the 1970s that allows Jews to reclaim assets lost during the war of 1948, the land was returned to the University, which in turn sold part of it to Jewish buyers and part to Majles al-Iskan, a Palestinian company.

On the basis of this sale, in 2012 King advanced the eviction of the Natcheh family from two housing units, establishing the basis of a settler community on their homes. Parallel to these events, during a hearing of the Knesset Education Committee MKs leveled criticism at the University for selling land to a Palestinian company, threatening to sanction the sale if the University failed to cancel it.

The plan to be discussed tomorrow pertains to both land in the possession of the private Israeli owner and the Palestinian company, the latter of which submitted a letter to the Local Committee stating its objection to the plan and demanding that it be terminated.  This demand is supported by Israeli planning and building law, which requires that land ownership be established as a prerequisite to initiating outline plans.


On Monday, September 3, the Local Committee discussed a permit (2017-789) to legalize the Elad settler group’s unapproved construction of shops and offices at the entrance to City of David National Park and to allow a story to be added to a lookout at the site.

Over the last several years, Israeli NGO Emek Shaveh has been advocating against the illegal construction with interlocutors at the Jerusalem Municipality and Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA). It has also filed an appeal to the High Court of Justice claiming that Elad’s illegal construction – a breach of law – provides a sufficient rationale for annulling the contract between the INPA and Elad under which the settler group maintains responsibility for daily management of what has become the center of their touristic settlement activities.

The permit request to legalize the unpermitted construction was made not by Elad but by the INPA itself.


On Sunday, September 2, the District Planning and Building Committee discussed objections to a plan (TPS 499699) for a new office building in Sheikh Jarrah, one of a spate of plans in Sheik Jarrah that were unfrozen in summer 2017.  There are currently some 75 families facing eviction in this Palestinian neighborhood just north of the Old City – another target of Arieh King’s setter enterprise.


The prospective building would be located adjacent to the parcel designated for the Glassman yeshiva, near the entrance to Sheikh Jarrah, despite the area being zoned for public buildings for a Palestinian neighborhood sorely lacking in social services.

Sheikh Jarrah has long been a locus of radical private settlement activity within the Old City and surrounding band of Palestinian neighborhoods, known to settlers as the “Historic” or “Holy” Basin.  The plan was discussed at the District Committee in July and approved for deposit as part of rash of plans for 1,700+ housing units, including revival of long frozen projects in the highly sensitive Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.  Included in that wave of plans was the controversial Glassman project, a yeshiva for dozens of religious men that would be erected at the gateway to Sheikh Jarrah, exacerbating simmering neighborhood tensions while strengthening settlers’ hold on this Palestinian neighborhood.  Together with several projects being promoted by city councilor and settler leader Arieh King, these buildings would form a block of settlement from the entrance to Sheikh Jarrah deep into the neighborhood.


  1. Tomorrow, September 5, the Local Committee will discuss a new plan (TPS 517383) on the edge of Gilo adjacent to Beit Safafa for construction of two 18-story high rises - a total of 148 housing units – in the built-up area of the neighborhood. The plan is slated for the same plot designated in TPS 13290, which was approved for 100 units in 2012; the new plan thus bumps up the volume of units by 48.
  1. On the agenda is also TPS 598755 for construction in Neve Ya’akov. An already approved plan for the area greenlighted the building of 36 housing units. This plan will increase the number to 84.
  1. On September 16, the District Committee will discuss whether to deposit for objections a plan (TPS 470484) for a visitor center on the Mount of Olives. The plan has been presented as a venture of the Jerusalem Municipality and Jerusalem Development Authority. Worthy of note is the involvement of renowned architect Arieh Rachamimov, who has been connected to several Elad settler projects including Elad’s future headquarters, the Kedem Center, a monolithic structure to be constructed across the way from City of David, at the entrance to Silwan.
  1. On August 31, a plan (292870) concerning demarcation of nature areas in Jerusalem was deposited at the District Committee. The ostensible objective of the plan is to protect areas from construction and development. If implemented, it will require additional checks and surveys for new neighborhood development projects. While laudable in the framework of environmental protection, the new plan raises concerns that it will be used as another obstacle to planning in Palestinian neighborhoods, both in terms of thwarting existing plans and preventing the introduction of future ones. 

Of particular concern is the fact that the area between Isawiyya and A’Tur – the site of the Mount Scopus National Park plan – is included on a list of nature areas under the auspices of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.  In 2014, Ir Amim, working with residents of the Khalt al-Ein section of A-Tur, and Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, working with residents of Isawiyya, won an appeal against the park. The Appeals Committee of the National Planning Committee ordered the plan frozen until the authorities conduct a community needs assessment to determine the impact of the park on the two communities, which lie on either side of the area marked for the park and whose remaining land reserves would be consumed by it. To date, the assessment has not been conducted and the new plan to be discussed will likely provide another means of circumventing the Appeals Committee’s decision.

See Ir Amim’s and Bimkom’s joint report, Deliberately Planned: A Policy to Thwart Planning in Palestinian Neighborhoods of Jerusalem for the full case study.

Please address all inquiries to:

Betty Herschman

Director of International Relations & Advocacy

Ir Amim (City of Nations/City of Peoples)





Facebook: www.facebook.com/IrAmimEng

Twitter: @IrAmimAlerts



If you wish to unsubscribe click here
This newsletter was generated on Altro