Erasing the Green Line: Israel approves 3,700 settlement units south of Jerusalem

Erasing the Green Line: Israel approves 3,700 settlement units south of Jerusalem
3 min read
West Bank
06 January, 2022
The plan for the settlements could cut Jerusalem off from the West Bank.
The plan includes some 1,500 units built just outside of Israel's 1948 boundaries [Getty]

The Israeli Jerusalem municipality's construction and planning committee on Wednesday approved the building of 3,700 settlement units south of Jerusalem.

The construction plan targets the south and southeast of Jerusalem, between the occupied east of the holy city and the West Bank city of Bethlehem, which is under the administration of the Palestinian Authority.

The new settlement plan would "further cut the continuity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem", Khalil Tafakji, the head of the maps unit at Jerusalem's Orient House and an expert on Israeli settlements in Jerusalem, told The New Arab.

According to Tafakji, the new Israeli settlements have "a specific political goal, which is to effectively erase the Green Line, Israel's 1948 boundaries".

Tafakji said that much of the building is "planned right over the Green Line, by linking Israeli settlements in Jerusalem with those North of Bethlehem, especially some 1,500 units between the settlement of Ramat Rachel, in Western Jerusalem, and the settlements of Har Homah and Givaat Hamatosh, in the West Bank".

Tafakji said the plan will also have "an important economic impact on the Palestinian city of Bethlehem".

"Settlement plans in this area include hotels and resorts designed to absorb the economic movement that comes to Bethlehem," he added.

Jamala Jumaa, coordinator for Stop The Wall, a Palestinian campaign against Israeli settlements, told The New Arab that "the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sur Baher would be separated from Jerusalem by new settlement units".

This will have a demographic impact on the Jerusalem area, Jumaa said.

"[It] also means at least 15,000 Israeli settlers more in Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, and on Palestinian occupied land. It is a clear daylight violation of international law," Jumaa added.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in June 1967 and annexed it in 1981, in a move widely considered as illegal.

Both the eastern and the western sectors of Jerusalem have international status under international law until a political settlement to the conflict is reached.

Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem are considered illegal by much of the international community, including the US.

Under the fourth Geneva convention, regulating cases of armed conflict, an occupying power is not allowed to transfer its civilian population to occupied territory.

Earlier in November, Israel approved some 11,000 settlement units, north of Jerusalem, completing the encirclement of the city from the Palestinian Territories.

Tahseen Alian, a legal expert at Al-Haq organisation, said: "These plans follow the Israeli refusal to reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem.

"Together, all these Israeli decisions are a clear Israeli message that on the ground, international law means nothing.

"Palestinians can get that message too."