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A City Without Borders

Netanyahu must act now to stop the new construction plan that will cut off Ramallah from East Jerusalem

Haaretz Editorial          21 July 2017        

Israeli Border Police checking the ID of a Palestinian woman next to newly placed concrete blocks in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, October 2015.Israeli Border Police check the ID of a Palestinian woman next to concrete blocks in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, October 2015. AP

The map of Jerusalem, including the territory annexed to Israel in violation of international law, depicts a territorially defined city with clear boundaries. But this cartographic picture can’t conceal the fault lines that cut through this municipal space, which is very far from being a model of urban cohesiveness. Israel’s capital city is a demonstration of political power, which not only imposes itself on the city’s Arab residents, but also serves as violent leverage with which to thwart any diplomatic solution, sabotage the chances of implementing a two-state solution and plant mines on the territory of the future Palestinian state.

The latest demonstration of this intent to dominate Jerusalem is a plan to build a new neighborhood to the city’s northeast. Ostensibly, this neighborhood is meant to ease the housing shortage, but in practice it will divide the city from the Palestinian communities to its east, and thereby prevent the needed territorial contiguity between these communities and Ramallah.

The new neighborhood, which will contain 1,100 homes, will link the neighborhood of Neveh Yaakov with the settlement of Geva Binyamin. But it will be defined as part of Geva Binyamin,

Binyamin. But it will be defined as part of Geva Binyamin, which is on the Palestinian side of the separation fence. By so doing, it will effectively turn Geva Binyamin into a branch of Jerusalem, thereby making it easier in the future to annex it to the city’s area of jurisdiction.

This plan was discussed back in 2004, and according to Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank, the Housing Ministry hasn’t submitted any updated plan since. Thus its announcement by the ministry now arouses suspicions that it’s meant to serve the political ambitions of Housing Minister Yoav Galant by paving his path to the Likud party. Yet precisely because it’s liable to serve as a political dowry, it must be taken seriously, given its potential to tear open another loose seam in Israel’s relations with the international community.

Galant claimed that “Israeli territorial contiguity from Gush Etzion in the south to Atarot in the north is of special security importance.” Based on similarly nonsensical arguments, previous Israeli governments promoted the construction of dozens of settlements that have become an enormous security burden. Thus, amid all his other tasks and concerns, the prime minister must now undertake the following mission: Stop this plan and don’t allow Galant’s ambitions, or those of other ministers, to lead Israel into this firing line.


New Israeli Construction Plan to Cut Off Ramallah From East Jerusalem

by    20 July 2017       Haaretz
The project would add 1,100 housing units to the settlement of Geva Binyamin, between the capital and the separation barrier
A school and houses in Neveh Yaakov, December 11, 2016.

 A school and houses in Neveh Yaakov, December 11, 2016. Emil Salman

The Construction and Housing Ministry is planning a major housing project that includes 1,100 units with far-reaching consequences for northeast Jerusalem.

The plan extends the city’s built-up areas eastward, filling in the gap between the settlement of Adam (also known as Geva Binyamin) and the Neveh Yaakov neighborhood. The homes will remain west of the West Bank security fence but will be built outside Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries. If built, the neighborhood would cut betweenPalestinian built-up areas and make it more difficult to create territorial contiguity between Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and the southern outskirts of Ramallah.

A map showing the area of the proposed construction.

Sources in the settlement and at the Housing Ministry said such a plan had been contemplated in the past, but had been abandoned. It was not pursued in part due to opposition from residents of Adam themselves, who were concerned that it would change the character of the settlement. Over the past year, however, the Housing Ministry resumed work on the plan.

A number of sources confirmed that the project is in its “advanced planning stages.” Officials from the Civil Administration, the Israeli agency responsible for civilian matters in the West Bank on behalf of Israel’s military administration there, confirmed that such a plan had been discussed in 2004. They said that the plan had languished since then, and that the Housing Ministry has yet to submit a new one. “The moment a new plan is accepted in the planning ministries it will be advanced in accordance with the rules,” said one official.

Housing Minister Yoav Galant’s office also confirmed the details of the plan. “We will be everywhere that it is possible to build and to provide solutions to the housing shortage, particularly, as in the case of Adam, in the vicinity of Jerusalem,” the minister’s office said in response to a Haaretz inquiry. “In greater Jerusalem, there is also particular security importance in Israeli [territorial] contiguity from the Gush Etzion Bloc in the south to Atarot in the north, and from Ma’aleh Adumim in the east to Givat Ze’ev in the west.”

Yotam Berger

Haaretz Correspondent