Committee advances plans for new Jerusalem homes beyond Green Line

Proposed neighborhood of Lower Aqueduct would include 1,465 units, with around half of the area in East Jerusalem

A general view of the Givat Hamatos neighborhood in east Jerusalem, on November 15, 2020. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)
A general view of the Givat Hamatos neighborhood in east Jerusalem, on November 15, 2020. (AP Photo/ Mahmoud Illean)

The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee advanced a 1,465-unit plan for a new neighborhood in the capital, half of which would be in the contested area over the pre-1967 ceasefire line.

The new neighborhood — known as the Lower Aqueduct — has been planned for the land between the Jewish neighborhoods of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa, both of which are located beyond the Green Line. About half of the planned construction would be in the Mateh Yehudah Regional Council inside Israel; the rest would be in municipal East Jerusalem.

Following the committee’s approval, the Lower Aqueduct plan advanced to the “deposit” stage, meaning that it only needs one more approval before ground can be broken on the construction.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967. In 1980, the Israeli government passed a law annexing the area, an act not recognized by most of the international community.

Left-wing Israeli groups and Palestinians oppose Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, which they hope will one day become the capital of a Palestinian state. Right-wing Israelis, who largely oppose full Palestinian statehood, support an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

According to Peace Now, the planned units would “prevent territorial contiguity between East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods and Bethlehem.”

“This is another way in which Israel is erasing the Green Line in Jerusalem, ending Palestinian contiguity, and expropriating the lands of Palestinians. When Palestinians tried to plan construction there, it was rejected — and now the territory will be confiscated,” said Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at the left-wing Ir Amim nonprofit.

Map showing the proposed Lower Aqueduct Jerusalem neighborhood, half of which would lie in East Jerusalem, making it controversial. (Peace Now)

The Jerusalem municipality did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israeli construction over the Green Line in East Jerusalem is controversial, even among Israel’s allies in Washington. After a plan to build a new neighborhood for ultra-Orthodox Jews near the Atarot Industrial Zone was announced in December, American lawmakers and government officials responded vehemently.

The Times of Israel reported at the time that United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed the administration’s firm opposition to the planned 9,000-unit project in an “intense” call with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The Jerusalem District Committee subsequently delayed the plan, citing technical inadequacies.

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