Israel Advances Two Construction Plans Beyond Green Line in Jerusalem

Freeze on construction in East Jerusalem over since Trump took office, according to right-wing politicians

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The Israeli settlement of Ramot on January 22, 2017.
The Ramot neighborhood in Jerusalem, situated beyond the Green Line, January 2017.Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The Jerusalem municipality announced on Thursday that it is advancing two construction plans in neighborhoods located beyond the Green Line. The move comes a day after a rare announcement by city hall that it expects similar plans which were previously submitted to receive approval.

During the two terms of former U.S. President Barack Obama and particularly during the last six years, construction of Jewish housing beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem markedly slowed. Once Donald Trump entered the White House, and especially after his visit to Israel in May, right-wing politicians began to declare that the freeze on construction in East Jerusalem was over.

It is now apparent that the Trump administration has removed all obstacles of the previous administration and a large number of pre-construction plans, some of them in the heart of the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods, are being advanced.

Evidence of the wave of East Jerusalem construction was on display on Wednesday, when the Jerusalem municipality announced plans for 800 housing units in Pisgat Ze’ev, Neveh Yaakov, Ramot and Gilo. Another 114 units will be brought for approval in Palestinian neighborhoods. The development plans in these neighborhoods are not being advanced by the government but by private construction firms.

Of the plans submitted on Thursday, the first includes the construction of 500 housing units in the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo that would extend toward the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina. The second would expand the Ramot neighborhood by 152 new units toward the village of Beit Hanina and town of Bir Naballah.

In response to these announcements, nonprofit left-wing organization Ir Amim said, “the expansion of Israeli neighborhoods to Palestinian population centers is deliberately initiated by the right-wing government. In this way, the government will influence the future of the state when a political shift in government will allow for a diplomatic settlement, and a compromise in Jerusalem will become difficult and complex.”

“The approval of these plans, which joins thousands of housing units in the settlements and other plans promoted in East Jerusalem, indicates that all the dams have been opened for unrestrained construction and initiatives aimed at destroying the chance that there will be peace here,” said the anti-occupation group Peace Now. “The government is destroying the future of the state with its own hands and we must not rest until this policy of foolishness ends.”

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