Israel’s National Council of Planning and Building (NCPB) today approved a new settlement plan to build thousands of settlement units on the hills of occupied Jerusalem.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said on its website that the Israeli authorities consider construction in this area necessary because of the lack of land available for construction in occupied Jerusalem.
The paper noted that the Society for the Protection of Nature and Environmental Groups protested against the plan because the construction will cause environmental damage to the landscape and springs in the region.
According to the newspaper, the construction plan covers an area of 600 hectares on which 4,500 housing units will be built.
Khalil Tafkaji, settlement expert and head of maps and land department at the Arab Studies Society, said Israel deals with Jerusalem as if it is its capital city and has therefore expanded settlement construction in it.
He added that this plan of settlement construction is part of Israel’s “strategy not to establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital”.
Israel occupied the eastern part of Jerusalem in 1967 and declared it its capital in 1980. The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Since its occupation of the Holy City, Israel has made many changes in the nature of the city and its demographic composition, setting up 19 illegal settlements with more than 200,000 settlers.
According to human rights organisations and a number of world powers, settlement construction and the expansion of existing settlements threaten the chances of a viable Palestinian state.
Since US President Donald Trump took office, Israel has been given the green light to build more than 6,000 settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.