I am starting to fear that my blog might become boring… Eli Yishai, our currant Minister of Interior continues to issue more and more announcements about construction in East Jerusalem, each and every small step in the planning process is announced by Yishai as “news” and as another achievement of his policy. And I find myself, yet again, trying to explain what today’s announcement is all about.
In today’s announcement Yishai prides himself for promoting construction in East Jerusalem as part of a solution to the current housing crisis in Israel. It is of course so cynical. The policy of Yishai is to build in settlements and to make a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem less possible (and to create political crisis by announcing it every day again and again), it has nothing to do with the housing crisis. Most Israelis do not want to live beyond the Green Line, and the construction in settlements is not an option for them.
So, in today’s announcement there are three plans all of which are in lands occupied by Israel in 1967 and annexed to the Jerusalem Municipality, i.e. in East Jerusalem:
1. Pisgat Zeev – plan no. 11647 – for 625 housing units in Pisgat Zeev, was announced and discussed many times in the past. when it was approved to be deposited, when it was deposited, when the objections to the plan were discussed and now again, when the plan is finally ready for the final approval and validation by the Minister’s signature.
2. Ramat Shlomo (Plan No. 11085, also known as the Biden plan, due to its original publication during Biden’s visit) – The plan refers to 1600 units. According to the press release, the Minister claims to have issued final authorization. However the plan was never deposited for public review, and the regional committee is still working on the preparations for the depositing (last hearing was held two weeks ago on July 24th, 2011).
Either the press release is wrong and the Interior Ministry was referring to the depositing stage that might take place soon and announced as if it was finally approved, or if the statement is true that Yishai did sign the validation of the plan (without the depositing stage), then we will appeal to the courts who will cancel the authorization as the plans cannot legally go ahead without passing the depositing stage.
3. Givat Hamatos – Plan no. 5438A for some 2,000 units – the plan got the final appoval of the reigional committee on 9/9/2008 (under Olmert’s term as Prime Minister). The approval for the plan was granted only under the condition that the parcelation procedures must be completed before the Interior Minister can sign the plan and make it valid. As opposed to other plans in East Jerusalem, this plan is not on land that was confiscated by the state, but on privately owned lands. In order to implement construction, a long process of parcelation of the land between the various owners needs to take place. This procedure is very complicated and takes years, similar to detailed planning procedure. We know that in recent weeks a preliminary parcelation plan was submitted to a to local committee in Jerusalem. The Minister must have used this as the chance to authorize the plan and today’s announcement might indicate the Minister will or have already signed the plan. However until construction is actually seen on the ground the parcelation procedure still faces a long process of approvals.