|Today, the District Planning Committee approved for deposit the detailed outline plan (TPS 285411) for 540 housing units along the northwestern edge of Har Homa E (also known as Har Homa West). The current version of the plan calls for 540 housing units, which is a slight drop from the 570 units included in a previous version of the plan.
It is fairly certain that the District Committee will rush to deposit the plan in the coming weeks before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January 2021. The period for submission of objections will be 60 days from the day of the plan’s deposit, which will likely extend into the first few weeks of Biden’s presidency.
The plan’s approval for deposit follows close on the heels of the opening of the Givat Hamatos tender for 1257 housing units last week.
The rapid advancement of this plan is indicative of the Israeli government's intent to accelerate as many settlement construction projects as possible in East Jerusalem and its vicinity in the waning days of the Trump administration.
Along with Givat Hamatos, construction in Har Homa E will serve as another step in linking the existing Har Homa and Gilo neighborhoods/ settlements to create an Israeli sealing-off effect along the southern perimeter of East Jerusalem. This will fracture Bethlehem and the southern West Bank from East Jerusalem, while isolating the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa and depleting all land reserves for further development of the neighborhood. If carried out, these measures will constitute a major obstacle towards the future establishment of a contiguous independent Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
As demonstrated by the swift developments in plans for Givat Hamatos and Har Homa E, it is likely that Israel will continue to exploit this narrow window of time before the US presidential inauguration to advance further measures the Biden administration is anticipated to oppose, including advancements in the E1 area.
Concerted opposition and pressure to halt these moves are therefore vital in this critical period.