9,000 new Israeli homes planned for Atarot

Most of the land is considered government property so would not be taken from private owners.

General view is seen of the area where Israel's Housing Ministry is discussing building new homes near Atarot, 2007 (photo credit: GILI COHEN MAGEN/REUTERS)
General view is seen of the area where Israel's Housing Ministry is discussing building new homes near Atarot, 2007
The Construction Ministry filed a request last week for the construction of 9,000 Israeli homes in the Atarot area of northern Jerusalem, Peace Now reported on Tuesday.
The announcement comes as the Transportation Ministry advances plans to extend the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high-speed train to the Western Wall.
The new homes would be located between the Palestinian neighborhoods of Kafr Akab, Kalandiya and a-Ram in Jerusalem. The approval process for the request is expected to take years. If approved, this will be the first new neighborhood over the Green Line in Jerusalem since Har Homa was established in 1997.
“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is asking to land another fatal blow to the chances of a two-state solution for two peoples,” said Peace Now. “The planned neighborhood places a wedge in the heart of the Palestinian urban sprawl that exists between Ramallah and east Jerusalem, and as such prevents the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem. Netanyahu is leading Israel to the reality of a binational apartheid state and is putting the Zionist enterprise in jeopardy.”
The approval process includes a bureaucratic stage involving preparation in the planning departments of the municipality and the Planning Administration, which will take several months. Afterward, the plan will be placed before the District Planning and Building Committee for approval, and, if approved, will be filed for public review. After any objections are heard, the plan will be placed before the district committee again for a final approval. The whole process should take a few years, depending on the various authorities involved.
Most of the land involved in the plan is considered government property and as such would not be taken from private owners. Some of the land does belong to private owners, who would be granted the rights to parts of the plan based on the value of the land they own. Dozens of Palestinian homes built in the area in past years without permits will most likely be demolished as part of the plan.
The Transportation Ministry advanced plans on Monday to build a train station that would directly connect Ben-Gurion Airport to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The National Planning and Building Council approved the new route following a directive by Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
The project, an extension of the recently opened Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high-speed line, will include a new 2.9 km.-long tunnel under downtown Jerusalem and the Old City, i24news reported.
Jordan called the planned train station a “flagrant violation of international law,” according to the BBC. Jordanian foreign ministry spokesman Daifallah al-Fayez called on the international community to “assume its responsibilities to resist the illegitimate and illegal Israeli steps.”
The Atarot project appears to run counter to some of the details in the Trump administration’s peace plan.
“The State of Israel should allow for the development by the State of Palestine of a special tourism zone in Atarot, in a special area to be agreed upon by the parties,” the plan states.
“We envision that this area should be a world-class tourist zone that should support Muslim tourism to Jerusalem and its holy sites. We envision that this zone will become a thriving and vibrant tourism center that includes state-of-the-art public transportation, which provides easy access to and from the holy sites.”
The plan also spoke generally about placing Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem on the other side of the barrier within the boundaries of a Palestinian state, such as Kafr Akab.
“The sovereign capital of the State of Palestine should be in the section of east Jerusalem located in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier, including Kafr Akab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis,” the plan stated.
Marcy Oster/JTA contributed to this report.