The Jerusalem Municipality is expected to give its final approval to a new
Jewish neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem called Givat Hamatos, the first
completely detached new Jewish neighborhood over the Green Line since the
construction of Har Homa in 1997.
Givat Hamatos will be located between
Talpiot and Beit Safafa.
The first stage of the plan, Givat Hamatos A,
was originally slated to receive final approval two weeks ago during the
biweekly meeting of the Local Planning and Building Committee, said City
Councilor Elisha Peleg (Likud), a member of the committee. But the meeting
occurred on the last day of Operation Pillar of Defense, and the item was
hastily scratched from the agenda when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
arrived to try to negotiate a cease-fire.
The neighborhood’s final
approval will be back on the agenda in two weeks on Wednesday, December 19,
according to Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon, who is the head of the
“It’s all connected to Clinton,” Peleg said on Sunday, furious
that the item was taken off the budget due to concerns about international
criticism. “No time will be a suitable time [for building in east Jerusalem]
because there will always be the Western world getting involved with internal
issues in the State of Israel, and they’ll never let us build,” he
“We need to show we’re an independent sovereign state, and we’re
doing what we need to do, which is build on all parts of Israel. We need to stop
playing the game when Clinton travels here or travels there and we rush to
cancel the project,” said Peleg.
Givat Hamatos A, one of four stages,
will have 2,610 housing units. The approximately 4,000 units in the full plan
include around 800 units for Palestinian homes built inside Beit
The discussion over Givat Hamatos comes just four days after
Israel provoked a hailstorm of international condemnation about its plans to
continue the approval process for the controversial E1 project located between
Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
But veteran Jerusalem activist Danny
Seidemann said that the capital’s southern projects over the pre- 1967 Green
Line are cumulatively “just as devastating” as E1, because they will prevent the
implementation of a twostate solution. He argued that the plans for 7,770 new
Jewish housing units in southern Jerusalem – in Gilo, Har Homa and Givat Hamatos
– will effectively cut off the city from Bethlehem.
“Under [the] Geneva
[Accord], a two-state solution is still possible, where Beit Safafa will be
Palestinian, but if Givat Hamatos were to be built it would no longer be
possible,” he said.
“In the absence of geographical connection, there
will be no political connection,” Seidemann added. “And the loss of a
two-state solution jeopardizes Israel’s existence.”
paints the southern expansion as a doomsday scenario, Peleg said the apartments
are essential for young families and recently released soldiers who need
“I don’t think any European country or the US
would like it if we got involved with their internal matters,” he said. “They
don’t have a right to do this. These places are in full Israeli
“We have to be strong and to continue to build in Jerusalem
as much as possible, in order to create facts on the ground that we’re not
giving up on Jerusalem.”