In Preparation for the Annexation of “Greater Jerusalem”: Significant Settlement Advancement in East Jerusalem in the Six Months Leading up to July 1st

July 20, 2020
In a recent alert Ir Amim warned that due to mounting internal and external pressures, the Israeli government may decide on a so-called "limited" annexation which is likely to focus on the Greater Jerusalem area.

While a decision on formal annexation has yet to take place, during the six months prior to July 1st, Israel took significant steps to enhance the  de facto annexation of Greater Jerusalem through the advancement of settlement plans in East Jerusalem and in Greater Jerusalem. These include new settlements in  the extremely sensitive areas of Har Homa E, Givat Hamatos, and E-1- areas that have been a red line which Israel refrained from crossing for years. Furthermore, settlement activity inside Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem is continuing at a heightened pace. Finally, during the first six months of 2020, detailed outline plans with a total of 3,514 additional housing units were advanced for settlements within East Jerusalem. If advancement of settlement plans continues at this pace for the remainder of the year, then 2020 will pass the record of 2012, when Israel advanced detailed outline plans for 6,431 housing units, mainly in response to the United Nations General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as a non-member state.

The scope and significance of the plans that were advanced in the last six months shows Israel's determination to consolidate its control – both in terms of demography and territory – over the whole of East Jerusalem and further into Greater Jerusalem.  This is seen especially as settlement construction increases in the areas connecting East Jerusalem and Greater Jerusalem (ex: Har Homa E and Givat Hamatos) and the creation of massive facts on the ground such as in the case of the E-1 plans. Thus, Israel is laying the groundwork for the official annexation of Greater Jerusalem. In parallel, these facts on the ground serve to entrench the detachment of East Jerusalem from the West Bank and further fracture the Palestinian space in and around Jerusalem. Combined, these steps threaten to deal a death blow to Palestinian aspirations in Jerusalem, the possibility for two capitals in the city, and a two-state solution.

The summary below contains the settlement plans advanced by the Planning and Building authorities in East Jerusalem and E-1 during the first six months of 2020. These include:

  • New settlements in the extremely sensitive areas of Har Homa E and Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem. These, along with the E-1 plans located just outside East Jerusalem in the West Bank, were for many years a red line in international policy that Israel refrained from crossing. Settlement construction in these areas will further detach East Jerusalem from the West Bank, fragment the Palestinian space in and around Jerusalem, and enhance the de facto annexation of Greater Jerusalem by consolidating a contiguous, built-up Israeli area between East Jerusalem and the settlements around it.
  • Plans for settlements inside Palestinian neighborhoods such as Beit Hanina and Sheikh Jarrah. These settlements break the fabric of Palestinian neighborhoods. The ideological settlers and private and state armed forces that accompany them disrupt the freedom of movement and safety of all in their vicinity. The intense settler activity in the neighborhoods' public space and the targeting of more homes in these areas put whole communities at risk of violence and expulsion.
  • Plans inside the built-up areas of existing settlements such as Gilo, Ramot, and French Hill. Although such plans do not expand the area of the settlements, the past six months have seen intensified advancement of plans which will result in a significant increase of housing units and settler population in close proximity with the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. In preparation for the vision of Greater Jerusalem such construction serves the Israeli government's goal to achieve a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem itself.
New Settlements
  • Givat Hamatos Tender– A tender for 1,077 housing units, in what will be the new settlement of Givat Hamatos A (TPS 14295), was published on February 24th. The published tender was due to open for bidding on May 3rd but the opening was delayed until August 2nd. If constructed, Givat Hamatos along with Har Homa E (see below) will become a new settlement that would seal off the connection between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem. Plan 14295 was approved by the Jerusalem District Committee back in December 2012, but for eight years Israel has had to refrain from publishing tenders for construction in the area. Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed the tender to be published as part of his latest election campaign. For a fuller explanation of the tender, see Ir Amim's alert  on the topic.
  • Givat Hamatos Masterplan– On April 27th, the District Committee discussed a new masterplan for Givat Hamatos. The masterplan lays out an increase in the number of housing units for the approved plan of Givat Hamatos A (TPS 14295 mentioned above) as well as determines the scope of construction in other parts of Givat Hamatos where detailed outline plans have yet to be approved. The plan calls for a total of 6,500 housing units – an increase of 3,900 to the 2,600 housing units currently approved in the Givat Hamatos A plan. The committee discussed the plan and decided to continue its advancement. Since it is not a masterplan, its approval will not enable the issuing of building permits for which the approval of detailed outline plans is required.
  • Har Homa E Masterplan - On April 27th the District Committee decided to approve the masterplan for Har Homa E (TPS 15399), a new settlement of 2,200 housing units expanding the existing Har Homa settlement westwards all the way towards Givat Hamatos. The construction of this new settlement, together with Givat Hamatos (and the existing settlement of Gilo and Har Homa), will seal off the connection between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem. Like the tenders for Givat Hamatos (see above) and the E-1 plans (see below), Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed to advance the plan after many years that he refrained from doing so. Being a masterplan, it does not enable the issuing of building permits without first approving detailed outline plans (see next bullet below). For a more complete explanation, see Ir Amim's alert  on the topic.
  • Har Homa E  Detailed Outline Plan – On February 27th the Jerusalem District Committee reviewed and decided to advance TPS 285411, a new plan for 500 housing units in part of the area of Har Homa E. If the plan is deposited and then reaches final approval, it will allow for the issuing of building permits for the construction of this new settlement.
  • Two Detailed Outline Plans in E-1 – The E-1 area connects Jerusalem to the Maaleh Adumim settlement and is located not in East Jerusalem but in the West Bank. Still, we include it in this summary due to its critical role in the Greater Jerusalem plan and the enormous impact of its construction in cutting off East Jerusalem from its Palestinian surroundings. It is also noted because of its advancement in tandem with the advancement of the above-mentioned plans for Har Homa E and Givat Hamatos. In the beginning of March, Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed to deposit two plans – E-1 South and E-1 East with a total of 3,400 housing units. Objections to the plans can be submitted to the Supreme Planning Council of the Civil Administration by August 9th. For more details see Ir Amim's alert on the topic.
Plans for Settlement Compounds Inside Palestinians Neighborhoods*
Neighborhood Plan No. Date Housing Units Stage Comments
Beit Hanina 740951 21/6/2020 72 Approved for deposit by the District Committee Initiated by Arye King in coordination with Israeli individuals who claim to own land in the neighborhood
Beit Hanina 740993 10/5/2020 72 Approved for deposit by the District Committee Initiated by Arye King in coordination with Israeli individuals who claim to own land in the neighborhood
Sheikh Jarrah 68858 28/1/2020   District Committee discussed objections to the plan The plan is for a dormitory and a yeshiva (a religious study institute) for dozens of students.
*It is important to note that settlement activity inside Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem is not limited to construction of settlement units. It also includes home evictions and so called "touristic projects" that seize public space for the use of settler initiatives. This summary focuses only on the advancement of settlement construction and does not include other developments.
Plans inside Built Up Area of Existing Settlements
Neighborhood Plan No. Date Housing Units Stage Comments
Gilo 532325 30/3/2020 868 Approved for Deposit  
Gilo 517383 7/6/2020 116 Deposited  
Gilo 804204 18/5/2020 618 Discussed at Local Committee  
Gilo 403428 7/6/2020 348 Deposited  
Ramot 522540 17/6/2020 157 Recommended for Approval  
French Hill 553636 25/5/2020 223 Discussed at District Committee  
French Hill 793612 25/5/2020 135 Discussed at District Committee  
Pisgat Zeev 814947 11/5/2020   Approved for Deposit Old Age Home – 300 housing units
Neve Yaakov 736884 17/6/2020 405 Recommended for Deposit  
In summary, during the first six months of 2020:
  • A tender for construction of 1,077 housing units in the new settlement Givat Hamatos was published.
  • Master plans for adding 6,100 housing units in new settlements of Har Homa E and Givat Hamatos. For 500 of these housing units, a detailed outline plan was also advanced at the District Committee.
  • Two detailed outline plans with a total of 144 housing units in two settlement compounds in the Palestinian neighborhood Beit Hanina were approved for deposit as well as a dormitory for dozens of Yeshiva students in Sheikh Jarrah.
  • Nine detailed outline plans were advanced with a total of 2,870 housing units inside the built-up area of East Jerusalem settlements.
These numbers signal a leap in settlement advancement in East Jerusalem, both in terms of quantity of housing units as well as in the advancement of new settlements in the most sensitive areas where, for years, Israel had to refrain from doing so due to international pressure.

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