15,000 settlement units to be built north of O. Jerusalem

The Israeli Housing Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality have launched a large settlement scheme aimed at building 15,000 settlement units on the lands of Qalandiya airport and in a settlement area called Atarot to the northwest of Occupied Jerusalem.

According to the Hebrew TV channel Ten on Tuesday, this scheme has been frozen for years because of the disapproval of the former US administration.

The Hebrew media said that the new settlement scheme will be the largest construction operation launched behind the Green Line in Jerusalem since its occupation in 1967.

The Hebrew newspaper Haaretz reported on Wednesday that the scheme includes thousands of settlement units, adding that since the inauguration of the US president Donald Trump, the Ministry of Housing began activating the settlement schemes that were frozen in the term of the former US president Barack Obama.

The paper pointed out that the Ministry has recently begun activating the scheme of the settlement neighborhood which will be built in Atarot under the supervision of Allon Bernhard, the Ministry’s city planner. The project will be officially announced on the so-called “Jerusalem Day” in May.

The settlement project will be constructed on the lands of Atarot airport which was abandoned by Israel at the outbreak of the Second Intifada in October 2002 fearing the Palestinian resistance attacks, according to the paper.

The settlement neighborhood contains 15,000 housing units stretching on about 600 dunums until Qalandiya checkpoint. These lands were confiscated in the early 1970s by the Labor Government.

The scheme includes digging a tunnel under Kafr ‘Aqab neighborhood to connect the new settlement neighborhood with the eastern settlement bloc that remained outside the separation wall.

The settlement neighborhood will be established near Qalandiya checkpoint, which separates the Palestinian neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem from Ramallah, in the northern part of the area that was confiscated by Israel after the 1967 war. This area is considered the most populated by Arabs in the West Bank.

At the end of March 2017, the Israeli cabinet approved the establishment of a new settlement for the settlers evacuated from Amona and confiscated hundreds of dunums of Palestinian lands in Ramallah in preparation for the construction of the new settlement.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted on 23rd December 2016 a resolution condemning the settlement activity and calling for its termination. The resolution was supported by 14 states (out of the 15 members of the UNSC), while the United States abstained without using the veto (during Obama’s term).

The countries that submitted the draft resolution considered the Israeli settlements illegal and an obstacle to the two-state solution and the peace process, saying that the draft resolution “was to protect the rights of the Palestinian people”.

Since his inauguration, Trump has given the Israeli government the green light for the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. On 23rd March 2017, the Trump administration granted the Israeli government an approval to continue the settlement activity without making any announcement.

The Hebrew TV channel Two said on 26th March 2017 that the agreement between Israel and the United States included a US approval for the establishment of an alternative settlement for the settlers evacuated from Amona outpost. This is in addition to the US recognition of thousands of settlement units in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The channel added that in exchange for that, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Trump’s demands to limit the construction activities to the major settlement blocs.