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East Jerusalem’s 9,000 unit Atarot plan to be debated in December

CM 08/08/2021

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A Jerusalem municipal committee is set to debate a controversial plan to build 9,000 homes, mostly designated for Jewish residents, at the site of the former Atarot Airport on December 6.
The 1,243-dunam project will also include a commercial center.
Its placement last week on the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee’s schedule marks the first movement on the project since plans were completed last December.

Palestinians and international officials fear that this project, along with three others in the Jerusalem region, will make Palestinian contiguity in the area unfeasible and harm the chance of reaching a two-state resolution to the conflict based on the pre-1967 lines.
The other three projects are the east Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa, plans to build a new Jewish neighborhood in Givat Hamatos and the E1 project near Ma’aleh Adumim.
Construction in any of these projects, “let alone their combined effect, will fragment the integrity of Palestinian Jerusalem and add to existing obstacles to a Palestinian capital in the city, thereby diminishing the prospects for a future two-state solution,” the left-wing NGO Ir Amim said Sunday.
Peace Now said the Atarot project “might bring a dangerous blow to the two-state solution. The planned neighborhood is at the heart of the urban territorial Palestinian continuity between Ramallah and East Jerusalem and will thus prevent the possibility of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The December 6 meeting is part of a multi-step approval process that includes the deposit of the plan, an objection period and a meeting to validate the plan, Peace Now said.
It has urged the government not to allow the Jerusalem Municipality to move forward on the matter.
“The government must remove the plan from the agenda immediately and shelve it,” Peace Now said.
The Biden administration has warned Israel against unilateral steps that would impede resumption of the peace process, even though it has not put forward any initiative to resume negotiations for a two-state solution.
Jewish building in east Jerusalem and West Bank settlement construction is a source of tension between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the Biden administration, as well as between the coalition partners in the government.
Bennett’s Yamina Party and the New Hope Party have supported projects such as this, which they believe strengthen Israel’s hold on a sovereign, united Jerusalem. The left-wing flank of the coalition, including Ra’am (United Arab List) and Meretz, has opposed them.
Although the debate is not due to be held until December, the project was placed on the agenda now, in advance of an anticipated first meeting in Washington between US President Joe Biden and Bennett, either later this month or at the end of September.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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