Israel Approves Construction Plan for Illegal Jerusalem Colony | Israeli-Palestinian conflict News

The plan would cut off the Beit Safafa neighborhood from Palestinian villages while connecting Israeli settlements.

Occupied East Jerusalem – The Israeli occupation authorities in Jerusalem have approved a plan to build housing 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 construct “public buildings and roads” in the Jewish caravan settlement of “Giv’at Hamatos,” according to the report. 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 on which the new infrastructure will be built was confiscated in the 1990s from Ethiopian settlers, and includes the caravans which were placed there to house them at the time.

“It’s old-new. [Israel] transforms the land that has been confiscated, around 900 dunams with the caravans on it, into long-term buildings, ”Toufakji told Al Jazeera.

He explained that part of the land belonged to the German Lutheran Church and that others were private Palestinian properties, 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 to build units in the settlement since 2012 have previously faced strong opposition from Israeli allies, Germany and the United States, leading authorities to repeatedly postpone the implementation. artwork.

But in February 2020, authorities announced that 6,500 homes would be built for the settlement, supplanting previous plans for the region which called for the construction of 3,400 homes and 1,100 hotel rooms. In November, they put out a tender for the construction of 1,257 units in the colony.

The settlement sits on land across the 1967 Green Line seized from the Palestinian towns of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem governorate and Beit Jala in Bethlehem governorate.

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

Fayrouz Sharqawi, of Grassroots Al-Quds (Jerusalem), told Al Jazeera that the Khirbet Tabalya case was part of the Israeli occupation’s “comprehensive colonial planning policies in Jerusalem”.

She said the aim is to “separate Palestinian communities and suffocate them, prevent their growth” to use them as “a tool for displacement”.

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

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