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Israel Plans New Settlement to Isolate East Jerusalem

Israel Plans New Settlement to Isolate East Jerusalem

Sunday, 22 November, 2020 - 08:00
Israeli forces patrol as machinery demolishes a Palestinian building in the village of Sur Baher which is divided by the Israeli barrier in east Jerusalem and the West Bank on July 22, 2019. (Reuters)

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has accused Israel of accelerating the settlement plan in an attempt to isolate East Jerusalem from Bethlehem in another sign of its efforts to Judaize territories.

PLO National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements said that the Israeli government gave the green light for the building of 1,257 housing units in illegal settlements in Givat Hamatos in east Jerusalem.

Since 1967, Israel has built several settlements in Jerusalem and its neighborhoods, such as Ramat Shlomo, Givat Hamivtar, and Ramat Eshkol. Some 250,000 Israelis lives in these settlements, which were built with the aim of isolating the city from the rest of the occupied West Bank.

The latest moves, however, allow the construction of a completely new neighborhood on the Green Line in Jerusalem.

Through this move, Israel is seeking demonstrate that it no longer differentiates between the Israeli Jerusalem and the Palestinian Jerusalem, said the report. The situation on the ground contradicts this approach, where east Jerusalem is denied its rights and is impoverished, while West Jerusalem is represented by authorities and enjoys privileges.

The construction of a settlement in Givat Hamatos will make it even harder to establish a contiguous Palestinian state.

A political crisis had erupted during current US President-elect Joe Biden’s visit to Israel in 2010, when the Jerusalem regional planning and building committee released an announcement of a plan to build 1,800 new housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood north over the Green Line.

Biden and senior Obama administration officials were furious about the announcement and saw it as a humiliation of Biden, who was trying to promote the renewal of the peace talks with the Palestinians.

As a result, a serious diplomatic crisis broke out with the United States and for a number of years, construction over the Green Line in Jerusalem was frozen in practice. All sensitive construction plans required the approval of the Prime Minister’s Office, which didn’t grant it.

When Donald Trump entered the White House four years ago, this construction was unfrozen. The Ramat Shlomo plan was completed, and hundreds of other residential units were built in the Gilo, Pisgat Ze’ev and Har Homa neighborhoods, as well as in other places.

A total of 350,000 Palestinians currently live in Jerusalem, a huge number that is totally disregarded by the Israelis, according to the report.

The report added that the settlement plans in Jerusalem also include the Israeli municipality's intention to transform Salah al-Din Road into a pedestrians only road. This would impact a total of 300,000 residents.

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