Israel approves settlement project that 'completes separation circle' around Jerusalem

Israel approves settlement project that 'completes separation circle' around Jerusalem
3 min read
West Bank
25 November, 2021
The project would completely cut Jerusalem off from the rest of the Palestinian territories, say observers.
The new project would completely seal Jerusalem from the north, separating it from Ramallah [Getty]

Israeli authorities gave final approval for a new settlement project north of Jerusalem on Wednesday, increasing concerns that the holy city will be cut off from the rest of the Palestinian territories by the new settlement.

The settlement is set to be built in the ‘Atarot’ area, on land that once included the Jerusalem International Airport, near the Palestinian town of Qalandia.

Israel's Channel 7 reported on Wednesday that the project will include residential apartments, public buildings, hotels and commercial centres. The project will include no less than 11,000 new units, according to the Palestinian Campaign Against Israeli Wall and Settlement - ‘Stop The Wall’.

Jamal Jumaa, coordinator of Stop The Wall, told The New Arab that the project “would complete the circle around Jerusalem that was started by the separation wall in the South, cutting Jerusalem off from Bethlehem, and in Beit Hanina, sealing Jerusalem from the East”.

Jumaa highlighted that the new project includes large tourism facilities, designed to “absorb the tourism movement in the city [of Jerusalem] into Israeli hotels in the settlements”. He added that “the Israeli authorities are working around the clock to complete the Greater Jerusalem project, which is accompanied with systematic expulsion of Palestinians from Jerusalem, especially through demolitions”.

Live Story

Israeli settlement, Palestinian expulsion

On Wednesday, the Israeli human rights group B'TSelem reported that Israeli authorities demolished three homes in Jerusalem, leaving six people - including three minors - homeless.

In mid-November, the Israeli municipality forced a Palestinian family in Jerusalem to demolish their house, which they had built over 20 years. Last week, Israeli bulldozers also razed livestock stables in Issawiyah, in Northern Jerusalem.

B'TSelem spokesperson Karim Jubran told The New Arab that Israeli authorities have conducted more than 150 demolitions in the Jerusalem area since the beginning of the year, 60 of which inside Jerusalem itself.

“This policy is complementary with settlement projects”, Jubran said. “The overall goal is to change the demographics of Jerusalem, while at the same time cutting it off the West Bank”.

He noted that “Israeli settlements cover most of Jerusalem’s area, not leaving any space for Palestinian urban growth. The only place left without settlements is Bit Hanina, where the wall has done the job”.

East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967, then annexed in 1981 in a move widely considered illegal under international law. Israel has ramped-up settlement building in Eastern Jerusalem and its surrounding area in recent years, despite international condemnation and criticism.