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Photo by: Courtesy Peace Now
Israel to approve new Jewish community in e. J'lem
By MELANIE LIDMAN
02/12/2012
Municipality expected to give final approval to Givat Hamatos, the 1st detached Jewish neighborhood over the Green Line since Har Homa.
 
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 committee.

“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 said.

“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 Safafa.

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.”

While Seidemann paints the southern expansion as a doomsday scenario, Peleg said the apartments are essential for young families and recently released soldiers who need affordable apartments.

“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 sovereignty.”

“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.”
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