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Local Planning Committee to Discuss Expansion of Nof Zion Settlement in Jabal Mukkaber
15 November 2022
On November 23, the Jerusalem Local Planning Committee is scheduled to discuss a plan (TPS 976597) for the construction of 100 new housing units and 275 hotel rooms at the entrance to the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal Mukabber. The area designated for this construction is adjacent to the existing Nof Zion settlement in the heart of Jabal Mukabber. The new plan will not only contribute to the expansion of Nof Zion and significantly enlarge its size, but it will also link it to the neighboring Israeli settlement/neighborhood of East Talpiyot (Armon Hanatziv). If approved, the plan will transform Nof Zion from an isolated settler enclave to a contiguous built-up extension of East Talpiyot, which will cut deep into Jabal Mukabber. See map below.
The plot designated for the settlement expansion was included in the large land expropriations Israel carried out in East Jerusalem decades ago. Since the 1990's, the Israel Land Authority had been leasing the plot to the Kilas Investment Corporation, a foreign company owned by Israelis who was behind the promotion of the Nof Zion settlement. The same corporation submitted the current plan (TPS 976597) for the settlement expansion, known as “Nof Zahav.”
Currently, the Oz police station occupies part of the plot intended for this expansion. Kilas has been renting out the lot to the Israel Police for many years. This arrangement enabled the corporation to continue to hold on to the plot for some 30 years despite not initiating construction of its own.
Now, in a combined move, Kilas submitted the abovementioned plan (TPS 976597) with the aim of rezoning the land to also include residential use alongside a separate outline plan (TPS 773184) initiated by the Israel Police and Jerusalem Municipality for the relocation of the Oz police station. Moving the police station to a nearby lot would therefore free up the space for advancement of the “Nof Zahav” plan.  
While the outline plan to expand the settlement is at the beginning stages of the approval process, the plan to relocate the police station to a nearby plot is already at an advanced phase. Objections submitted against the plan were discussed in January 2022, and a decision is expected in the near future. Ir Amim together with residents from Jabal Mukkaber were among those who filed objections. In its joint objection, they cited misuse of the respective plot of land considering the acute shortage of public buildings (i.e. schools) in the area and the absence of a proper needs assessment for the community. Rather than allocating the open space to meet the public needs of the neighborhood, the authorities intend to utilize it for a massive military-like base on the edge of Jabal Mukkaber.
If the plan is ultimately approved and the police station is relocated, it will unequivocally pave the way for the expansion of the Nof Zion settlement.
Plan’s Advancement with State and Municipal Assistance
While expansion of the Nof Zion settlement is being promoted as a private initiative by "real estate developers," in practice, it could not have been carried out without state and municipal support. This includes expropriation of the respective plot of land, its transfer from the ILA to Kilas, lease of the plot to the Israel police which enabled the corporation to hold onto the land for decades, and now the planned transfer of the police station to an alternative location.  It should likewise be noted that the settlement enjoys large municipal investments for construction of a synagogue, mikveh and a playground.  Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon and Deputy Mayor, Aryeh King, known settler activist and Founder of the Israel Land Fund has more than once attended ceremonies in the settlement. King also facilitated Australian businessman Kevin Bermeister’s acquisition of the Nof Zion project in 2011, blocking the intended sale of the property to Palestinian entrepreneur, Bashar Masri.
Significance of the Settlement’s Expansion

Enlarging Nof Zion 
There are currently 95 housing units in the Nof Zion settlement while some additional 200 housing units are under construction. The new plan will add at least 100 more housing units. Nof Zion is therefore on its way to become the largest settlement in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem with a capacity of 400 housing units, surpassing that of the Ma’ale Zetim settlement in Ras al Amud (home to Arieh King). Together with the public services that the municipality will be providing to Nof Zion, the settlement will extend over a considerable area of Jabal Mukabber.

Beyond its geopolitical implications, this is yet another example of the severe discrimination in urban planning and housing in East Jerusalem. Despite the plan being slated for the entrance of Jabal Mukabber, it is not designated for the community’s development needs but rather for the expansion of a Jewish settlement in the middle of a Palestinian neighborhood. It should be noted that Jabal Mukabber is among the Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem with the highest number of demolitions per year.

From an isolated compound to a large settlement connected to East Talpiyot 
As mentioned above, Nof Zion is currently an isolated settler enclave located in the heart of the residential area of Jabal Mukabber. The expansion of the settlement will not only enlarge its size, but will also create a settlement belt and an Israeli built-up continuum that reaches the entrance between Jabal al-Mukaber and the East Talpiyot neighborhood /settlement. The relocation and construction of the police station near the planned settlement expansion will complete the connection to East Talpiyot.  

Increasing the police/paramilitary presence in Jabal Mukabber and disrupting residents’ freedom of movement
Expanding the settlement towards the main entrance of Jabal Mukabber will infringe on the residents’ freedom of movement and further disrupt the fabric of life in the neighborhood. Prior experience show that during clashes and periods of tension and instability, Israel rushes to impose collective restrictions under the pretext of protecting Israeli settlers. In Jabal Mukabber, Border Police officers/soldiers are regularly stationed there based on the claim that it prevents the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails at houses in the East Talpiyot neighborhood/ settlement.

During the waves of violence in 2014 and 2015, the police blocked off main streets in the neighborhood for weeks under the pretext of security needs.  Due to the location for the planned expansion of the settlement, the potential imposition of similar collective punishment measures in close proximity to it in the future will severely disrupt the freedom of movement and daily life of tens of thousands of residents of the neighborhood.
Simulation image of the Nof Tzion settlement from its promotional video.
Please address all inquiries to:

Amy Cohen
Director of International Relations & Advocacy
Ir Amim (City of Nations/City of Peoples)
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