Israel advances plans for 1,400 Jewish settlement units in East Jerusalem

Yumna Patel

Mondoweiss  /  July 27, 2022

The new Jewish settlements would effectively cut East Jerusalem off from the southern West Bank. “Politically, this is a strategic plan that will strike a blow at the possibility of a Palestinian urban continuum in East Jerusalem,” settlement watchdog Peace Now said in a report.

The Israeli Jerusalem Municipality advanced plans for 1,400 new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem, in a move that would make it virtually impossible to maintain a continuum of Palestinian neighborhoods and areas in the city. 

The plans, advanced on Monday, would see the 1,400 new units built in an area northwest of the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, bordering the East Jerusalem towns of Beit Safafa and Sur Baher. 

The new settlements would be built on both sides of the Green Line, effectively creating a link to the existing Har Homa [Jabal Abu-Ghneim] settlement northeast of Bethlehem, and further sealing off the southern perimeter of East Jerusalem from Bethlehem, and the rest of the southern West Bank. 

Of the 1,400 units, 750 are slated for the new Givat Hamatos settlement, and would be built on the last remaining land of the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa, boxing in the residents, and quashing any hopes of growing and developing their neighborhood. 

Spanning around 46 acres, the plans would also will cut off the last remaining corridor to connect Beit Safafa and the Palestinian neighborhood of Sharafat to the rest of East Jerusalem.  

“Politically, this is a strategic plan that will strike a blow at the possibility of a Palestinian urban continuum in East Jerusalem,” settlement watchdog Peace Now said in a report. 

The approval came on the heels of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, during which he reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution – a plan that Palestinians increasingly view as unviable largely due to settlement expansion in places like East Jerusalem, which Palestinians demand as a capital for their future state.

The initial discussion on the promotion of the new settlements was scheduled to take place on July 18th, but in order to avoid potential strife during Biden’s visit, the discussion was postponed for one week later, just after the conclusion of Biden’s trip to the region. 

Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are considered to be illegal under international law, and are viewed as one of the largest obstacles to achieving Palestinian statehood.

Despite their illegal status under international law, the Israeli government has continued to promote settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, at a rapid rate. 

Simultaneously, Palestinian construction in East Jerusalem is largely banned, as the Israeli municipality rarely approves Palestinian zoning plans or construction permits. 

Since Israel’s occupation and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, not a single new neighborhood for Palestinians has been approved or planned in the city. Meanwhile, at least 12 Jewish settlements, and more than 57,000 homes have been approved for Israeli settlers in the city, according to Peace Now.  During the same time period, the Israeli government initiated plans for just 600 Palestinian homes in the city. 

Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss