Jerusalem authorities on Wednesday approved a major expansion of a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, signing off on plans to add 176 homes, the city’s deputy mayor said.
The expansion would create the largest Jewish enclave inside an Arab neighborhood of the city, NGOs said, by allow the Nof Zion neighborhood to add the new housing units to 91 existing homes.
Nof Zion is located in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. The plans were approved by a Jerusalem planning committee, Deputy Mayor Meir Turjeman told AFP.
However, the approvals for construction were made under the condition that issues pertaining the ownership of the property in question are resolved in favor of neighborhood’s Jewish residents. A group of Palestinian landowners are appealing to the committee, arguing that the land on which Nof Tzion is trying to expand, is in fact theirs.
Peace Now and other NGOs, which consider Nof Zion a settlement, say the approvals would make it the largest Israeli settlement inside any Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem and possibly also of the West Bank.
Most settlements, particularly in the West Bank, are located outside of Palestinian residential areas. They are typically far larger than Nof Zion.
Jerusalem’s status is ultrasensitive and central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel took control of East Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967 and later extended sovereignty to the Old City and East Jerusalem in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
It sees the entire city as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.