On November 8, construction began on the expansion of the Nof Tzion settlement (marked by a small purple circle on map) located in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabel Mukabber. The outline plan (TPS 4558) for Nof Tzion includes a total of 395 housing units of which 91 units have already been built and populated. The current expansion of the settlement will add 182 new housing units to the existing 91 units, effectively turning Nof Zion into the largest Israeli settlement in the middle of a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. With the completion of the new housing units, Nof Tzion will surpass the size of the Ma’ale Zetim settlement in Ras al Amud on the Mount of Olives, currently the largest Israeli settlement located in a Palestinian neighborhood (home to city co uncilman and settlement activist, Arieh King). Building permits for the 182 new housing units were approved by the Local Planning Committee in April 2019.
Establishing and expanding state-backed settler enclaves like Nof Tzion within Palestinian neighborhoods not only erodes the fabric of these communities, but further reinforces Israeli control of East Jerusalem and foils the possibility of a future political resolution on the city. This phenomenon is exemplified by the acceleration of settlement initiatives in the Old City Basin aimed at further embedding Israeli sovereignty of this area through a constellation of state-sanctioned residential and touristic settlement sites, as illustrated by Ir Amim’s map, “Settlement Ring around the Old City.”
On November 19, the District Planning Committee approved an outline plan for 290 housing units in an existing built-up area of the Gilo neighborhood/settlement. The committee rejected objections submitted by a Palestinian family who claimed ownership of the land in question and currently resides in a home on a portion of the property. The state claimed the land was expropriated in the 1970’s despite the family’s assertion to the contrary. The committee refused to discuss the dispute over land ownership, citing that it was beyond its purview and authority which deals with planning issues alone.
The plan is designated for an area in Gilo directly along the planned route of the Jerusalem Light Rail’s green line currently under construction, which will significantly ease access between the neighborhood/settlement and West Jerusalem.
Today, according to an Israeli media source, the Minister of Construction and Housing announced it was preparing a plan for 11,000 housing units in Atarot in Northern Jerusalem (marked by an orange circle on map) with the support of the Jerusalem Mayor. The government has expressed intent several times in the past to further build in this area, however, no plans have yet to be promoted or advanced.
Ir Amim will continue to monitor and report on new developments.