Three plans were deposited for public review in the last few days:
- City Plan No. 10310 – “Har Homa C” – a plan to expand dramatically the East Jerusalem settlement of Har Homa with 983 new housing units.
- City Plan No. 12825 – a plan for an addition of 42 housing units in the already built part of Har Homa.
- City Plan No. 4280b – a plan to build 320 housing units in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramot.
This is a huge provocation by Netanyahu, at a very sensitive time in the negotiation process. The timing of this depositing is not accidental. The plan in Har Homa, had been approved for depositing in July, 2008 and suddenly now it is being deposited. It seems to be a calculated attempt by Netanyahu to torpedo peace talks and also avoid blame, by forcing the Palestinians to be the ones to walk away from the negotiation table. Har Homa has become a symbol of Netanyahu’s refusal of peace. In 1998 as Prime Minister he established the settlement, which became a major cause for the failure of the Oslo Process.
What is a depositing of a plan?
As part of the planning process, the planning authorities publish every plan for public review. The public is granted 60 days to express objections to the plan, after which the Regional Planning Committee would convene to discuss the objections and to approve the plan accordingly. After the final approval of the plan, there is another long procedure before the construction can start. In cases of big projects initiated by the Ministry of Housing, such as the case of Har Homa, there is a need for a public tender, offering potential contractors the opportunity to bid for the right to build. After winning the bid, the contractors apply for a construction permit from the municipality, a procedure that might take a few months to a year, and only then can they start to construction.
The depositing is one major step in promoting the plans, but it is going to take a few years until the bulldozers can start the construction.