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Israeli Authorities Poised to Advance New Settlement Plan to Significantly Expand Givat Hamatos
09 January 2023
Last week, the Jerusalem District Planning Office opened a file for the promotion of a major new settlement plan in Givat Hamatos. Entitled "New Talpiyot Hill," the new outline plan (TPS 657593) calls for 3,500 housing units along with 1,300 hotel rooms which will span over 140 dunams of land. The plan is designated for a strategic strip of land, which will expand Givat Hamatos eastwards all the way to Hebron Road, the main thoroughfare running between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It should be underscored that this project is separate from the existing approved Givat Hamatos plan for 2610 housing units designated for another plot of land adjacent to the boundaries of the new plan.

The new outline plan is scheduled to go for its first discussion at the Jerusalem Local Planning Committee on March 2.

The expansion of Givat Hamatos along with Har Homa E and the Lower Aqueduct plan on the opposite side of Hebron Road will further expand the settlement wedge between the existing settlements of Gilo and Har Homa. Cumulatively, these concurrent settlement advancements will create a sealing-off effect of East Jerusalem's southern perimeter from Bethlehem and the southern West Bank. The Lower Aqueduct plan (TPS 808840), which calls for 1,465 housing units on land located on both sides of the Green Line between Givat Hamatos and Har Homa was formally deposited for objections on December 2.

Once a longstanding international redline due to its lethal impact on the prospects of a two-state framework with two capitals in Jerusalem, Givat Hamatos is slated to become the first new settlement built beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem in over two decades.

The existing plan for Givat Hamatos A (TPS 14295), which calls for 2,610 housing units in an area of 370 dunams, was fully approved in 2012, but had remained frozen in subsequent years due to international opposition. This changed in 2020 towards the end of the Trump Administration when Netanyahu announced the issuance of tenders for 1257 of these housing units as part of his re-election campaign. The tenders were officially open for bidding in November 2020, and their winning bidders announced in January 2021 just hours before the inauguration of US President Biden.

While infrastructure works are currently underway, the construction of these housing units has yet to commence and therefore can still be halted. 

Yet, now the new Israeli government appears to be poised to advance an entirely new settlement plan for the expansion of Givat Hamatos in one of its first major settlement projects.

New Settlement Plan's Details
The new outline plan (TPS 657593) aims to expand the area of the planned settlement by nearly 40% and more than double the number of housing units. A decade ago, TPS 5834D (known as Givat Hamatos D) was advanced for the same area designated for the current plan (TPS 657593), but was not approved. Contrary to the current plan, the previous plan for the area only included hotels and no residential units. Beyond significantly increasing the size of the planned settlement, construction of hotels in this area will likely serve as a major source of competition with the tourism industry in Bethlehem, potentially diverting vital business from the Palestinian economy. 
TPS 657593 was initiated by an Israeli company together with an offshore foreign enterprise. Based on the plan’s documents, the Greek Orthodox Church is cited as the property’s landowner. According to Israeli media reports from 2009, the church sold land in the area to an Israeli businessman and the New Talpiyot Hill company.

It should be noted that in parallel, there is indication that settlement of land title procedures (formal land registration) are being carried out on blocs located within the boundaries of the plan. As revealed by Bimkom's and Ir Amim's ongoing monitoring and research, settlement of land title proceedings are largely being used to dispossess Palestinians of their properties and seize more territory in East Jerusalem for Israeli settlement. 

Heightened Housing Discrimination 
Beyond its geopolitical implications, this new settlement plan is also an acute example of the depth of planning and housing discrimination in the city. Despite the plan being intended for land adjacent to the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa, it is not designated for the community’s residential development needs, but rather a new housing project for Israelis over the Green Line in Jerusalem. This plan will not only further engulf Beit Safafa with an Israeli built-up continuum, isolating it from its Palestinian environs, but also deplete the remaining land reserves for Palestinian development in the area.

While zoning plans for thousands of housing units are advanced yearly for Israeli neighborhoods and settlements across Jerusalem, equitable residential development is virtually neglected in planning schemes for Palestinian areas, which prevents the issuance of building permits and leads to devastating rates of home demolitions. 
The new outline plan (TPS 657593) is designated for the area marked "New Talpiyot Hill" sandwiched between the areas marked for the approved plan for Givat Hamatos A and the Lower Aqueduct.

Click here for higher resolution map.
Please address all inquiries to:

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