Israel advances plans for large housing project for Palestine
An Israeli committee has approved controversial plans for eventual construction of 2,200 Palestinian homes in occupied east Jerusalem, a spokeswoman said Wednesday, in the largest such project since 1967.
NGO Ir Amim described the plan to develop the Arab AlSawahra neighborhood as the largest planning procedure for east Jerusalem Palestinians since Israel seized the territory in the Six-Day War.
Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher for Ir Amim, which works for an “equitable” sharing of Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians, hailed the move, approved Monday by the interior ministry’s district committee.
A municipal statement said the plan was part of “Mayor Nir Barkat’s policy of unifying Jerusalem by reducing the gaps existing in the eastern part of the city, upgrading the standard of living and assuming responsibility for all activities ... in Arab neighborhoods.”
The plans were put forth by Barkat in 2009, but were not advanced due to objections from right-wing politicians until September 2014, when they were approved by Jerusalem ‘s local planning committee.
According to Tatarsky, they enable Palestinians to build homes on their privately owned lands by rezoning from “open space” to “residential.”
Tatarsky said landowners would now have to plan the homes and receive approval and that it would take years until construction can begin.