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 Givat Hamatos: Edging up to a Red Line in East Jerusalem

Since the recent spate of media reports announcing Israel’s intentions to advance 15,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem - including a report from Yedioth Ahranot being circulated today  -  Ir Amim has been closely monitoring business in the planning bodies to detect any movement of plans.  While declarations from the Ministry of Housing and Construction - timed to maximize symbolic resonance in lead-up to Jerusalem Day during Israel’s observance of the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War - have yet to materialize into actual procedural steps, the gravity of such statements cannot be underestimated.

GIVAT HAMATOS

The most calamitous of the three areas cited in reports, given both its geo-political significance and status in the planning process, is Givat Hamatos [link here for map], which would supplant Har Homa as the newest settlement to be built in East Jerusalem since 1997.  Along with E-1, Givat Hamatos is a major red line in East Jerusalem: it is the last link in a chain of developments that will cumulatively break East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank along the southern flank of the city, in violation of the Clinton Parameters designed to negotiate a two state solution. 

The plan was originally proposed in four parcels, the most serious of which is Givat Hamatos A (TPS 14295 for current plan approved in 2012; originally TPS 5834a), consisting of 2,600 new housing units.  Parcel A was approved at the end of 2012 but approval was not officially published until September 2014, in the days leading up to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s UN address and meeting with former US President Barak Obama. For the 10% of the land that is privately owned, publication of tenders is not required before issuance of building permits.  Construction startup is now contingent on completion of infrastructure works.

Urgent steps must be taken to block the advancement of Givat Hamatos A, tenders for which can be announced at any time.

Today's report referenced 1,100 additional units in Givat Hamatos, which would align with Givat Hamatos D (5834D), planned for construction of 1,081 hotel rooms on an area of 171 dunams.  This parcel was approved in January 2013, with approval yet to be published.  Strong efforts to thwart advancement of Givat Hamatos D must also be taken.

Additional parcels:

Givat Hamatos C (5834C), proposed for 1,452 housing units, was the only parcel to be rejected in December 2012, likely due to objections from private land owners.  In mid-June 2016, Ir Amim reported that the upcoming Local Committee agenda included a Municipality promoted plan (TPS 30099) for development of road infrastructure in the area originally designated as Givat Hamatos C. The new infrastructure plan opens the door to revival of building plans.

Givat Hamatos B (5834B) is actually designated for Palestinian development – roughly 500 new units in an already built-up area that would add additional stories to existing buildings. The parcel was approved at the end of 2012 but approval was not officially published until July 2016, after landowners petitioned the District Court.

SEALING OFF THE SOUTHERN PERIMETER OF EAST JERUSALEM

The significance of Givat Hamatos exceeds its singular importance as being the first new settlement to be [potentially] built in East Jerusalem in two decades. Construction of Givat Hamatos would cap off a wave of simultaneous developments along the southern flank of East Jerusalem that will – if realized - enable the complete consolidation of Israeli control and render the two state solution nonviable. 

  • Givat Hamatos is located immediately west of the rapidly expanding Har Homa, where approvals for roughly 3,700 units were issued in 2012, most of which have now been tendered.   Construction of a new road connecting Har Homa and Givat Hamatos - already in operation - signals readiness to advance the plan for Har Homa West, which has yet to enter the planning committees.  Har Homa West would link Har Homa with Givat Hamatos.
  • The Ministry of Transportation and Jerusalem Municipality recently completed construction of a 6-lane highway through the heart of the residential Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa, just west of Givat Hamatos. Construction is now progressing on an interchange at the exit from Bet Safafa which will directly link the Begin Highway – the major thoroughfare in West Jerusalem – to Road 60 (the “Tunnel Road”) connecting Jerusalem to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank. The interchange is the final piece of infrastructure needed to seamlessly connect the settlements south of Jerusalem to the center of the city and north to other parts of Israel.
  • The continually expanding settlement of GiloOf existing plans:

The 797 unit Gilo Western Slopes plan (TPS 13157) has already been tendered and hundreds of building permits issued.  Construction of roads and infrastructure is rapidly advancing. 

An additional 770 units under a reparcelization plan for Gilo Southern Slopes (TPS 175505), expanding Gilo toward Beit Jala, recently received final approval. As the land in question is privately owned, there will be no tender process; once infrastructure construction is completed, land owners will be able to directly apply for building permits. The remaining area, with potential for 500 housing units, awaits a reparcelization plan which, as far as known, has yet to be initiated.

A third plan for the neighborhood (TPS 13290) comprising 100 housing units next to the neighborho0d of Beit Safafa was approved in 2012 but has yet to be tendered.

Gilo Southwest, a plan for 2,100 housing units which would expand Gilo in the direction of the Tunnel Road (Road 60) and Beit Jala, has yet to be discussed in the planning committees.

  • At the end of April, Ir Amim reported that Israeli authorities had resumed construction of the Separation Barrier around the village of Al-Walajeh after having halted work in 2014.  It is estimated that at most, it could take several months to finish the remaining sections of the fence.  In tandem, the first demolitions to be conducted in East Jerusalem beyond the Separation Barrier occurred last year – in Al-Wallajeh.

‚ÄčRAMAT SHLOMO

Ramat Shlomo, also referenced in recent declarations, has serious implications for a political resolution on the city – with development rapidly fusing it with Ramot along the northern perimeter of East Jerusalem. Of current major plans:

  • TPS 11085 (“the Biden Plan”): Out of 1,600 housing units, 825 units have already been successfully tendered, most of which have received building permits.  An additional 775 units remain to be tendered.  To note: according to a planning decision, only 900 building permits for this plan can be issued before the interchange at the entrance to Ramat Shlomo, currently far from completion, is finalized. 
  • TPS 11094 holds the capacity for an additional 500 housing units. That plan was approved for deposit but has yet to be deposited, discussed, or approved at the District Committee – all of which is necessary before tenders can be announced.

ATAROT

While a plan calling for the construction of 10,000 units in the northernmost reaches of East Jerusalem – putting a wedge between East Jerusalem and Ramallah and further isolating the northernmost East Jerusalem neighborhoods locked out by the Separation Barrier – is to be taken seriously, the plan is still in development and has yet to enter the planning process.   Given that the area is currently zoned as an airport, actually getting it into the planning pipeline – much less fast tracking it – is not likely at this time.

In addition to Givat Hamatos,Ramat Shlomo and Atarot, the report from Yedioth Ahronoth includes references to East Talpiot, Ramot, Pisgat Zeev, and Neve Yaakov. Ir Amim will continue to monitor and report on all new developments in the planning process as information becomes available.

 

Please address all inquiries to:

Betty Herschman

Director of International Relations & Advocacy

Ir Amim (City of Nations/City of Peoples)

Jerusalem, Israel

betty@ir-amim.org.il

054-308-5096

www.ir-amim.org.il

Facebook: tinyurl.com/IrAmimEng

Twitter: @IrAmimAlerts

 

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