J'lem Municipality Advancing Plan to Build 1,900 Apartments for Arabs

Houses, to be built in city's Issawiya neighborhood, planned together with local population and on basis of its needs.

The Jerusalem municipality is moving forward with a plan to build some 1,900 apartments for Arabs in the Issawiya neighborhood as part of the city's master plan.

First proposed by the Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights organization, the plan is intended, among other things, to retroactively legalize illegal construction in the neighborhood and enable new housing units to be built to accommodate its natural growth. The municipality's planning authorities approved it back in 2005.

Issawiya's population is estimated at 12,000, and is expected to grow to some 18,500 by 2020. The neighborhood's shortage of land and building permits is acute, and as in other Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, the city has issued numerous demolition orders for its illegally constructed houses.

Bimkom planners and architects planned the new housing in Issawiya together with the local population and on the basis of its needs. The plan could thus become a model for other neighborhoods of the city.

The neighborhood is located at the foot of Jerusalem's French Hill, just northwest of the road to Ma'aleh Adumim.

"The building plan in Issawiya is one of 20 plans in north Jerusalem that have been approved and 30 others that are about to be approved," Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski said in a statement yesterday. "These plans are a breakthrough in improving East Jerusalem residents' status as equal citizens of the capital and will improve their quality of life."