On September 5, 2022, the Jerusalem District Planning Committee is slated to hold an additional discussion on the plan (TPS 969162) for the new settlement of Givat HaShaked designated for the area of Beit Safafa along the southern flank of East Jerusalem. The committee is scheduled to discuss the plan concerning approval for deposit for objections. See details below.
The following week, on September 12, the Supreme Planning Council of the Israel Civil Administration (ICA) is expected to discuss the two major settlement plans for E1 and likely move towards their approval. Beyond its lethal geopolitical ramifications, Israeli construction in this area threatens to displace roughly 3,000 Palestinians living in small Bedouin communities in the area, including Khan al-Ahmar.
In separate, but related proceedings, it should be noted that the state is required to submit its response just a day prior (on September 11
) to a petition filed by the Regavim settler organization calling for the immediate evacuation and demolition of Khan Al Ahmar. In recent months, the Supreme Court has expressed frustration with the state’s ongoing request for extensions and has stated that it will not grant the government additional time to submit its response.
Both the E1 and Givat HaShaked plans join a spate of other settlement plans in and around Jerusalem, including Givat Hamatos, Atarot
, the Lower Aqueduct
, and Har Gilo West,
which were advanced under the Bennett-Lapid government. This is despite the fact that this theoretical “government of change” committed to refrain from new settlement construction and preserve the status quo concerning the conflict. Instead, settlement activity advanced at full force during its tenure, accelerating steps towards de-facto annexation of "Greater Jerusalem” and imperiling any remaining prospect of a negotiated resolution to the conflict.
Measures must be immediately taken to halt efforts to advance the Givat HaShaked and E1 plans due to their severe ramifications on Palestinian rights and the viability of a future contiguous Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
The "Givat HaShaked" plan (TPS 969162) calls for 473 housing units on 38.7 dunams of land located in Sharafat
, the northwestern part of the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa. According to previous deliberations on the plan, there is the possibility of increasing the number to 750 housing units by constructing higher multi-story buildings. While this would not expand the plan’s borders territorially, it would increase the population size of the new settlement and hence the number of Israelis living over the Green Line in Jerusalem. Following discussion of the plan on July 25
, the Jerusalem District Planning Committee postponed a decision on its deposit for objections to allow for further examination of issues pertaining to noise, density and pollution. These issues along with the option of raising the number of housing units will likely be further discussed at the upcoming committee discussion on September 5.
Givat HaShaked Area Targeted for Decades
Israeli intent to build in this area has existed for years. The Rabin government attempted to expropriate some 200 dunams of land in this location in 1995 for the construction of a new Israeli settlement, but was ultimately forced to shelve the plan due, in part, to strong international outcry, including from the US
. Expropriation of this land would have constituted the first large land seizure in East Jerusalem since the Oslo Accords, which was perceived at the time as a move derailing the nascent peace process. Nearly three decades later, plans to build on a portion of this area were resurrected and likely aided by the government's settlement of land title process (formal land registration) being conducted on the precise plot of land intended for Givat HaShaked. In lieu of Israel no longer able to carry out expropriation of large swaths of territory in East Jerusalem without sparking international uproar, it has resorted to utilizing another mechanism to appropriate more land under the guise of a decision and budget earmarked for Palestinians--the settlement of land title procedures.
See here for latest details on the overlap between the settlement of land title procedures and Israeli settlement advancements in East Jerusalem.
The General Custodian’s Unprecedented Move
As mentioned in a previous alert
, a large portion of the land marked in the Givat HaShaked plan is managed by the General Custodian—a department within the Ministry of Justice who is responsible for administering properties, which were allegedly owned by Jews in East Jerusalem prior to 1948. Notably, the General Custodian is one of the state institutions formally and integrally involved in the settlement of land title process.
Its management of this land indicate that properties in the area were once allegedly owned by Jews. In a highly unusual and unprecedented move, the General Custodian, who typically administers properties whose Jewish claimants are unknown until they or their heirs are located, has gone beyond simple property management to rather initiating an outline plan for this new settlement.
Housing Inequality as Driver of Palestinian Displacement
Beyond it’s geopolitical significance, Givat HaShaked is yet another example of Israel's robust residential development for Israelis juxtaposed with the severe neglect and suppression of Palestinian urban planning and housing. Despite the plan being slated for land on the northwestern side of Beit Safafa, it is not designated for the neighborhood’s development needs. Similarly, vacant land on the eastern edge of Beit Safafa was likewise rather allocated for the planned settlement of Givat Hamatos
. If constructed, Givat HaShaked will further deplete Beit Safafa’s land reserves and encircle the neighborhood with an Israeli built-up continuum. Such inequitable urban planning policies
has long served as a lever of Palestinian displacement from Jerusalem in service to Israel's goal of solidifying a Jewish demographic majority and further entrenching Israeli territorial control.
The two E1 plans (TPS YOSH 420-4-7, TPS YOSH 420-4-10) for a total of 3,412 housing units are designated for an area of over 2,100 dunams situated between East Jerusalem and the Maaleh Adumim settlement. Construction in E1 has long been
considered a game-changer in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it will bisect the West Bank and detach it from East Jerusalem, dealing a death blow to the prospects of a two-state framework with two capitals in Jerusalem. It likewise places approximately 3,000 Palestinians living in small Bedouin communities in the area under threat of displacement.
For years, the E1 plans had been frozen due to strong bipartisan US and international opposition until former Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed the plans be deposited
as part of his 2020 re-election bid and within the framework of the government's accelerated steps towards annexation. Although the Bennett-Lapid government claimed that its policies would be different, it continued to advance the plan over the past year.
In October 2021, two discussions were held by the ICA's Supreme Planning Council
on objections submitted by numerous Palestinian communities and Israeli organizations, including Ir Amim, Peace Now and the Association of Environmental Justice in Israel.
After the third discussion was scheduled for January 2022, it was subsequently cancelled reportedly due to US pressure. The discussion reappeared on the agenda for July 2022 and again removed due to purportedly US pushback and now rescheduled for September 12 where the ICA's Supreme Planning Council will likely move to approve the plans. Both the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense have the ability to freeze the advancement and/or approval of these plans.