Peace Now asks Gantz, Ashkenazi to halt east Jerusalem Givat Hamatos homes
A signpost in the Givat Hamatos section of east Jerusalem
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“This is a destructive plan that, if implemented, will fatally block the possibility of creating territorial contiguity between east Jerusalem and Bethlehem,” Peace Now wrote in a letter.
Peace Now on Sunday urged Alternative Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to put a halt to the controversial east Jerusalem Jewish GIVAT HAMATOS housing project before it destroyed any possibility of a two-state resolution to the conflict.“This is a destructive plan that, if implemented, will fatally block the possibility of creating territorial contiguity between east Jerusalem and Bethlehem,” Peace Now wrote in a letter to the two top Blue and White politicians. The left-wing NGO added that the plan would stop “any possibility of achieving peace.”
The tender for 1,077 new homes was published in February, but the details necessary for project submissions have yet to be posted on the Lands Authority website. Initially, the tender was slated to be opened from May 3 to June 20. That date, however, was pushed back to Sunday, August 2 until September 7. According to Peace Now, as of Sunday evening, no such details had been posted on the Lands Authority site.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promoted the project during the last election as an essential component of a united Jerusalem. The Palestinians are opposed to all Jewish housing projects such as this one, which is located over the pre-1967 lines in Jerusalem. They regard east Jerusalem as the future Palestinian capital even though Israel formally annexed that territory in 1980.But the Givat HaMatos project is viewed as particularly problematic because it is located near the Jewish Har Homa neighborhood in an area that borders Jerusalem and the nearby Palestinian city of Bethlehem, thereby helping cut off easy contiguity between Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.Last week, 15 European countries and the European Union issued a formal diplomatic complaint against the Givat HaMatos project and a second controversial project, known as E1.The countries signed on the complaint are: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.The E1 project calls for the construction of 3,412 homes in an unbuilt area of the West Bank Ma’aleh Adumim settlement near Jerusalem.That E1 project is advancing through the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria, where the objection period is slated to end on August 18. Palestinians hold that this project also harms contiguity of their future state, thereby making it unviable.According to US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, both the Givat Hamatos project and the E1 project are in territory designated for sovereign Israel.Peace Now and the Palestinians hold that both those areas will be part of a future Palestinian state, baseD on the pre-1967 lines.PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said on Saturday that the European objection was not enough and that concrete action must be taken.“Rhetorical opposition has not deterred Israel. In fact, Israel is emboldened to escalate its criminal actions precisely because it is confident that opposition will not move from the verbal to the practical,” Ashrawi said.“If implemented, these Israeli plans would completely sever occupied Jerusalem from its natural Palestinian surrounding and cut the occupied West Bank in half,” she added.“While the international community is concerned with the "possibility" of annexation, Israel is implementing its annexation scheme on the ground without any deterrence,” Ashrawi said.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.