Court Temporarily Freezes Givat Hamatos Tender following Petition Filed by Ir Amim & EJ Residents

15 January 2021
Yesterday, Ir Amim along with affected East Jerusalem Palestinian residents filed a legal petition to the Jerusalem District Court against the Givat Hamatos tender on the basis of severe housing discrimination within the tender’s conditions. As a result, the court today ordered a temporary injunction, giving the state to respond by January 21, which temporarily freezes the tender process until submission of the state’s response. 
As previously reported, the tender’s bidding period is slated to close next week on January 18, just two days prior to Biden’s inauguration. Once the bidding period ends and contracts awarded, construction in Givat Hamatos becomes nearly inevitable.
Beyond the tender’s political implications, Ir Amim uncovered severe discriminatory elements implicit within the tender itself which directly infringe on the housing rights of the East Jerusalem Palestinian population. As a result, Ir Amim in conjunction with East Jerusalem residents from areas, including neighborhoods adjacent to Givat Hamatos (i.e. Beit Safafa and Sur Baher), submitted the legal petition. See here for the petition (Hebrew).
Givat Hamatos is one, if not the only remaining land reserve for residential development in East Jerusalem, particularly along the southern perimeter. However, according to the tender, 40% of the homes will be allocated to individuals who are eligible for a government subsidized housing scheme. To qualify, individuals must be a non- homeowner and an Israeli citizen, which entirely precludes EJ Palestinians, as the vast majority do not hold citizenship but rather permanent residency. Not only are they excluded from an affordable subsidized housing option, but only 60% of the apartment supply offered to an Israeli citizen is available to a Palestinian resident, which discriminates on two planes. 
The petition therefore calls for the following remedies: 1. to grant Palestinian residents eligibility to qualify for the subsidized apartments on Givat Hamatos, 2. Instruct the state to consider equitably allocating a significant number of affordable apartments to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem,  3. Postpone the apartment marketing process for a period of no less than six months to allow for interested Palestinian Jerusalem residents to apply for eligibility for the subsidized housing scheme, or 4. To cancel the subsidized housing scheme and rather sell all apartments on the free market, making them accessible to all. 
The petition likewise calls for the issuance of an injunction which would freeze the tender process until the aforementioned items are examined and the tender’s conditions amended. 
Under international law, Israel as the occupying power is obliged to uphold the human rights of the Palestinian population of Jerusalem. Likewise, under Israeli law which was unilaterally applied to East Jerusalem following its annexation in 1967, the Israeli authorities bear the responsibility to afford Palestinian residents with equal housing rights without prejudice or discrimination. 
East Jerusalem Palestinians already suffer from acute housing shortages and suppression of residential development stemming from long-standing discriminatory planning and building policies. Since East Jerusalem’s annexation in 1967, not one neighborhood has been built for Palestinians, while only 8.5 % of Jerusalem is zoned for their residential use despite them constituting nearly 40% of the city’s population. 1/3 of the land in East Jerusalem was confiscated to build Israeli neighborhoods/settlements. If and when residential outline plans are approved for existing Palestinian neighborhoods, they only allow for a few hundred housing units versus thousands of housing units in Israeli neighborhoods across the city. 
In addition to serving as a severe obstacle to a two-state solution, Givat Hamatos therefore becomes another example of acute housing discrimination and the violation of basic fundamental rights of the Palestinian population of Jerusalem. 

Ir Amim will continue to update on relevant developments concerning the petition.