Jabel Mukaber, east Jerusalem .
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Local Committee for Planning and Construction in the Jerusalem Municipality approved on Wednesday a plan to expand the Jewish neighborhood of Nof Zion in the city’s east by 176 housing units.
The approval of the plan means that Nof Zion will become the largest Jewish neighborhood in predominantly Arab areas of east Jerusalem.
There are currently 91 housing units in the neighborhood, which is surrounded by the southeastern Arab neighborhood of Jebl Mukaber.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said of the move that the municipality under his leadership was continuing to build and strengthen Jerusalem.
“In the 50th year of the reunification of the city, we are reuniting the city in actions on the ground,” he told Channel 2 News.
During the 1990s, real-estate contractors purchased a plot of land in Jebl Mukaber from Arabs and prepared a construction plan for the area.
In 1994, the construction of 395 housing units was approved, and in the early 2000s, the first phase of the project saw construction of the current 91 housing units in Nof Zion.
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About a year ago, Shemini Properties Ltd., which owns a significant portion of the plot, requested construction permits for 13 buildings to contain a total of 176 housing units. These permits were discussed in Wednesday’s meeting.
Left-wing NGO Peace Now condemned the future move, saying the expansion of settlements in east Jerusalem will harm Israel’s international status.
“The construction of a large settlement in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood will be a severe blow to Jerusalem and to the chance to achieve the two-state solution,” the NGO said in a statement.
“It seems that the government is now allowing unlimited construction [in east Jerusalem] that will ignite that region and harm Israel’s [international] status,” the statement said.
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