Israel committee to discuss settlement expansion 


Middle East Monitor  /  February 25, 2020

An Israeli planning committee will discuss settlement expansion plans for occupied East Jerusalem tomorrow, according to updates from settlement watchdog Ir Amim.

Separately, the Israeli Lands Authority yesterday published a tender for the construction of 1,077 housing units in “Givat Hamatos A”, described by Ir Amim as “the first time since the late 1990s” that Israel is constructing a new settlement in East Jerusalem.

According to the NGO, the Jerusalem local planning and building committee “will hold a special session” tomorrow to discuss two plans for a new settlement by the name of “Har Homa E”.

Ir Amim explained that “Har Homa E is intended to be built in the large open area between Har Homa and Givat Hamatos”, and the “area was also known as Har Homa West”.

The organisation noted that “construction of Har Homa E and Givat Hamatos has been for many years a primary aim of [Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s governments.”

“If advanced,” Ir Amim added, “these new settlements will essentially connect the existing Gilo and Har Homa…settlements and create a contiguous Israeli built-up area along the southern perimeter of [occupied] East Jerusalem.”

The new colonies will thus “serve to detach Bethlehem and the south of the West Bank from East Jerusalem while isolating the Palestinian neighbourhood of Beit Safafa”.

“Constituting a long-term strategy of Israeli governments, construction of large settlements is employed as a means to fracture the Palestinian space and unilaterally determine the boundaries of Jerusalem to prevent the future establishment of a Palestinian capital in the city,” Ir Amim added.

According to the group, the timing of these developments “should be seen in the context of his [Netanyahu’s] re-election campaign and against the backdrop of the formal release of the US Peace Plan.”