The Israeli Lands Authority has published today a tender for the construction of 1,077 housing units in Givat Hamatos A.
As was suggested in Ir Amim's alert from last week, the tender is published on the Israeli Lands Authority website but is currently not open for bidding.
This is the first time since the late 1990's that Israel is constructing a new neighborhood/settlement in East Jerusalem. Furthermore, the location of Givat Hamatos means that its construction will have dire consequences: It will serve to detach Bethlehem and the south of the West Bank from East Jerusalem while isolating the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa. For several years Netanyahu has abstained from publishing the Givat Hamatos tenders, serving as a source of frustration among rightwing parties. Netanyahu's announcement therefore constitutes a break in the longstanding restraint. This dramatic change of policy should be seen in the context of his re-election campaign and against the backdrop of the formal release of the US Peace Plan.
Advancement of Har Homa E Plans
On Wednesday the Jerusalem local planning and building committee will hold a special session to discuss two plans for a new neighborhood/settlement by the name of "Har Homa E". The session was especially arranged following prime minister Netanyahu’s Thursday announcement of his decision to advance construction for two new settlements in Har Homa and Givat Hamatos. Har Homa E is intended to be built in the large open area between Har Homa and Givat Hamatos (See map). This area was also known as Har Homa West.
TPS 285411 is a detailed outline plan which marks an area of roughly 30 dunams for construction of 306 housing units. The area in question is registered as owned by several Israeli individuals and is located at the western edge of Har Homa E. The plan file was opened in 2015 but it has never been advanced. Wednesday’s discussion will be the first time the planning committees formally discuss the plan. For full approval the plan will need to pass a lengthy process which will include future sessions at the local and district committees.
TPS 15399 is titled as a “Master Plan for Har Homa E”. The plan is submitted by the ministry of construction which is also responsible for the new plan in Atarot revealed last week.
The plan file at the Jerusalem municipality was opened on February 23rd (yesterday) and unlike other plans which are brought to discussion at the local committee, the municipal website shows none of the plan documents. This shows that the plan – perhaps not fully prepared – is hastily being brought to discussion following Netanyahu’s announcement.
Given the lack of information what we do know is:
- The master plan refers to a considerable part of the large open area between Har Homa and Givat Hamatos. This area is known as Har Homa West and the plan calls it Har Homa E.
- Since it is a master plan, even when fully approved it will not enable the issuing of building permits. Its advancement may signal the future initiation of detailed outline plans in Har Homa E which will enable construction to take place.
As reported in Ir Amim’s alert from last week on Thursday the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee is scheduled to discuss plans in Givat Hamatos and Har Homa (the Har Homa plan is most likely plan number 15399 mentioned above). The details of Netanyahu’s announcement and the actual planning situation in both areas are explained in the alert.
Construction of Har Homa E and Givat Hamatos has been for many years a primary aim of Netanyahu's governments. If advanced, these new settlements will essentially connect the existing Gilo and Har Homa neighborhoods/settlements and create a contiguous Israeli built-up area along the southern perimeter of East Jerusalem. This will serve to detach Bethlehem and the south of the West Bank from East Jerusalem while isolating the Palestinian neighborhood 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.