In a surprising move, the Interior Ministry did not approve a major part of the new Givat Hamatos neighborhood in east Jerusalem. The decision comes during four days of marathon meetings in the Interior Ministry and Jerusalem municipality’s planning committees, which started on Monday and are expected to advance approvals for 6,500 apartments over the 1967 Green Line this week alone.
According to Interior Ministry spokeswoman Efrat Orbach, the committee approved around 700 units for Arab residents of Beit Safafa, located next to Givat Hamatos. The committee decided to postpone more than 1,000 units for both Arabs and Jews which would be located in both Beit Safafa and the new Givat Hamatos neighborhood.
City councilor Yair Gabbay, who sits on both the Local and District Planning Committees, said that the project was not approved because it was poorly planned and not because of any ideological moves.
"There were problems with roads, with infrastructure, neighbors who weren't notified, and that's why it failed," he said.
Left-wing activists also dismissed the postponement as insignificant. "Unfortunately, the rejection of this plan is not going to solve the political problem of construction in Givat Hamatos because Givat HaMatos A, the largest plan, will alone... be lethal for the two state solution," said Hagit Ofran of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch Team. There are four separate plans of Givat Hamatos (A, B, C, and D) for a total of around 4,000 apartments. Approximately a quarter of the apartments will be inside the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa and planned for Arab residents.
The postponement happens during a week of dramatic changes in east Jerusalem construction plans. Four days of marathon meetings in the Interior Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality are discussing the approval for 6,500 apartments in east Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, the city's Local Committee is expected to give final approval to stage A of Givat HaMatos, with 2,610 units.
On Monday, the 1,500 apartment units in Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo received final approval from the Interior Ministry.
On Thursday, the Interior Ministry is expected to give final approval to the Slopes of Gilo South, approximately 1,000 apartment units.