Jerusalem Suburb Expansion Plan Changed to Keep Growth Within the Green Line

In the original plan for the expansion of Mevasseret Zion, some 40 percent of the land intended for the neighborhood was technically in the West Bank

Houses in the northern part of the Mevasseret Zion suburb of Jerusalem, June 6, 2018.
Emil Salman

The Jerusalem District Planning Commission has decided to change a plan to enlarge the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion so that it does not extend over the Green Line. The original plan had raised complex planning and legal problems, since Israel’s planning bodies have no authority in the West Bank.

Haaretz reported in June that the Israel Lands Authority was advancing a new plan for 290 apartments in the northern part of the town, along with commercial space, preschools and green areas.

But the documents for the plan showed that some 40 percent of the land the neighborhood was to be built on is over the Green Line, between the town and the separation barrier. According to Kerem Navot researcher Dror Etkes, until the 1980s some of the land included in the plan was cultivated by Palestinians.

During a hearing last week by the district planning commission’s subcommittee for objections, some objections raised involved the encroachment onto West Bank land.

As a result, the subcommittee decided, “Given the factual situation, the committee rules that the boundaries of the plan must be reduced in accordance with the updated Green Line border, as measured by the Survey of Israel. The committee rules that all the plan’s documents be updated accordingly as a condition for approving the plan.”

According to the committee, the Survey of Israel updated maps of the Green Line in March this year. The committee added, however, “Since the armistice line had in the past been marked on large-scale maps, while more precise, small-scale measuring is required for this plan, deviations can be expected.”

According to Etkes, “It’s puzzling that the State of Israel, which claims to know what’s happening in the computers of the nuclear facility in Natanz, in the heart of Iran, hasn’t yet developed ‘technological tools’ to clarify where the armistice line, also known as the Green Line, runs, although 70 years have passed since it was agreed on. We at Kerem Navot are committed to helping it find the Green Line until it develops the technological tools required to fulfill this task on its own.”