The Palestinian Authority and left-wing group Peace Now on Tuesday slammed a move by Jerusalem City Hall Monday to advance plans for 1,100 hotel rooms in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood over the Green Line.
The municipality has already approved the construction of 2,610 housing units in Givat Hamatos, which is located between the neighborhoods of Talpiot, Beit Safafa and Gilo, and another plan to build an additional 1,400 housing units is currently awaiting final approval. On Monday the city submitted its plans for the hotel rooms to the Planning and Building Committee. The rooms are to be built in an existing delapidated building, Israel Radio said.
Palestinian sources said approval of the project undermined the government’s claims to be committed to a viable two-state solution.
Peace Now Settlement Watch director Hagit Ephron told Haaretz that: “The government is trying to establish as many facts on the ground as possible before the elections… This could be a fatal blow to the idea of ’two states for two people’ because it prevents the possibility of linking East Jerusalem to the southern West Bank, preventing territorial contiguity for a Palestinian state which will be established alongside Israel.”
Construction in Givat Hamatos has been a source of controversy for a number of years. The Israeli left-wing NGO Ir Amim has submitted several objections against the plans for construction in the neighborhood, arguing that it would limit the land rights of the residents of the adjacent neighborhood of Beit Safafa, which straddles the Green Line.
Right-wing groups, including the Israel Land Fund, have published notices advertising land for sale in Beit Safafa and Givat Hamatos in recent weeks, advocating Jewish settlement in those neighborhoods.