JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli authorities on Monday advanced a plan to build nearly 500 homes in a new Jewish settlement in Jerusalem that rights groups say will further separate it from the neighboring Palestinian city of Bethlehem and the south. of the West Bank.
The planned colony of Givat HaShaked is part of a group of colonies on the southern edge of East Jerusalem, many of which have already been turned into full-fledged residential neighborhoods. Critics say they further undermine any hope of a two-state solution.
Ir Amim, an Israeli rights group that closely follows developments in Jerusalem, said the settlement plan was approved Monday to be filed for objections, a key step in a bureaucratic process that could continue for years. months or years before the start of construction.
There was no immediate comment from the Jerusalem Municipality. City officials, who view the settlements as ordinary Jewish neighborhoods, have previously said they are committed to building in all neighborhoods of Jerusalem for the benefit of Jewish and Arab residents.
Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and built settlements in the two territories that are now home to some 700,000 Jewish settlers. Palestinians want both territories to be part of their future state and see settlements as the biggest obstacle to peace. Most countries consider settlements to be illegal.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized by the international community and considers the entire city its unified capital. Palestinian residents of the city face systematic discriminationespecially in terms of town planning, which makes it extremely difficult to build new houses or expand existing ones.
The United States and other Western countries have pressed Israel to curb the settlements, with little success. Israel’s outgoing government, which included peace parties and even an Arab faction, approved the construction of thousands of settler homes despite American objections.
The latest settlement will be built next to the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa, which is already largely surrounded by settlements, further inhibiting its growth.
“While there is constant investment, robust development for Israelis, there is complete suppression of urban planning (for Palestinians), which ultimately serves as a displacement mechanism for Palestinians because it pushes them out of town,” said Amy Cohen, advocacy director for Ir Amim. “They have no way to build or expand their neighborhoods.”