Israel approves construction plan in illegal Jerusalem settlement

The plan would isolate the Beit Safafa neighborhood from Palestinian villages while uniting Israeli settlements.

Occupied east jerusalem – The Israeli occupation authorities in Jerusalem approved a plan to build houses in an illegal settlement in the Palestinian neighborhood of Khirbet Tabalya.

On Wednesday, the local planning committee of the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality approved the plan to build “public buildings and roads” in the Jewish caravan settlement of “Giv’at Hamatos,” according to Israel. media. It came a day after Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with US Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, DC.

According to Jerusalem map expert Khalil Toufakji, the area over which the new infrastructure will be built was confiscated in the 1990s for Ethiopian settlers, and includes the caravans that were placed there to house them at that time.

“This is old-new. [Israel] it is transforming the land that was confiscated, some 900 dunams with the caravans on top, into long-term buildings, “Toufakji told Al Jazeera.

He explained that part of the land belonged to the German Lutheran Church and other parts were private Palestinian property, including for refugees, and pointed to previous sales of church-owned land to Jewish settlements north of Nazareth, in the “Bethlehem of Galilee.” . ”- and Sarona, near Tel Aviv.

Plans since 2012 to build units in the settlement previously met with strong opposition from Israeli allies, Germany and the United States, prompting authorities to repeatedly postpone implementation.

But in February 2020, authorities announced that 6,500 housing units would be built for the settlement, replacing previous plans for the area that included the construction of 3,400 housing units and 1,100 hotel rooms. In November, they put out to tender the construction of 1,257 units in the settlement.

The settlement is on land across the 1967 Green Line, taken from the Palestinian cities of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem governorate and Beit Jala in Bethlehem governorate.

The construction plan would isolate Beit Safafa from the surrounding Palestinian villages and from the rest of Jerusalem. It would also link the nearby Israeli settlements of Jabal Abu Ghneim (also known as Har Homa) with Gilo, and the proposed settlement of Giv’at Yael in the Walajeh lands.

Fayrouz Sharqawi of Grassroots Al-Quds (Jerusalem) told Al Jazeera that the Khirbet Tabalya case is part of the “general colonial planning policies of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem.”

He said the goal is “to separate the Palestinian communities and suffocate them, prevent their growth” to use as “a tool of displacement.”

He added that the growth of the settlement would mean “the severing of all Palestinian ties with Beit Safafa, completely isolating it.”

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