The local committee for planning and construction of the Jerusalem Municipality on Wednesday approved five new plans across the “Green Line” in Jerusalem in huge volumes of 3,557 new housing units, according to the Peace Now website which was cited by the AP (Israeli committee OKs 3,500 settlement homes in Jerusalem).
Even Peace Now concedes that the approval of the plan by the local committee of the Jerusalem Municipality is only a recommendation, and the committee has no authority to approve the plans. We wish they could, but they can’t, and the entire project is likely to remain at the wishful thinking level.
However, On January 17, the plans are expected to be submitted for approval by the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee, which does have the authority to approve them, and Peace Now warns that as soon as they receive the approval, “the statutory planning procedure will begin, which will take about a year or two, and it will be much more difficult to stop them.”
Again, we’ve been to this movie already, and the likelihood of the approved plan to become a reality in the coming year with the current administration in the White House is not great. As the Peace Now website explains, the Israeli government has the power to freeze a plan up until the point when tenders are awarded and third-party equities are involved. Even after the statutory approval of a plan, as long as actual tenders have been issued, bids are awarded and contracts signed, the Israeli government may, at its discretion, freeze or abandon the construction project.
Which didn’t deter Peace Now from alerting the anti-Israel media (which the AP has become in recent years) about “right-wing elements in the government” who are “taking advantage of the lack of a coalition agreement in the political sphere to advance far-reaching plans and place facts on the ground that harm the possibility of reaching peace.”
Mind you, these plans are for new homes well inside the Jerusalem municipality, in neighborhoods that have been part of “Israel proper” for more than fifty years: one plan is for the area between Har Homa and Givat Hamatos, and a second plan is for the edge of French Hill towards Mount Scopus.
Jerusalem was reunited following the Six-Day War when the IDF captured eastern Jerusalem and the Old City, which had fallen to the Jordanians during the 1948-9 War of Independence. Shortly afterward, the State of Israel applied its sovereignty over the eastern part of the city in accordance with section 11B of the Government and Justice Ordinance and declared the unification of Jerusalem. The urban boundaries of the united city extend from the west of the city (which was part of the State of Israel since its establishment in 1948) to the east, which had been under Jordanian occupation for 19 years.
On July 30, 1980, the Knesset passed a Basic Law: Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel, which emphasizes that “complete and united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” and states that it is “the seat of the President, the Knesset, the Government, and the Supreme Court.” On July 19, 2018, the Knesset passed Basic Law Israel – the nation-state of the Jewish people, which contains the same declaration.
But elements such as Peace Now and the AP still see all of the above as reversible – which is why they view a plan for 3,557 Jewish homes there as a deterrence to peace. Well, we could name a few other deterrents to peace, but life’s too short.