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European Council on Foreign Relations





By - 10 December 2013

Despite occasional claims of an undeclared settlement freeze in East Jerusalem, some important developments have taken place so far in 2013. The Israeli government approved plans for 2,422 units in Ramat Shlomo and Gilo and projects for two parks in the Givati parking lot area and on the slopes of Mount Scopus, which will further break the territorial continuity of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. On 30 October, the Israeli cabinet “reinforced” the planning for the Israeli settlement of Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem, which will allow for the building of an additional 1,500 housing units. And finally, on 12 November, Housing Minister Uri Ariel announced a plan to build 4,500 units in a new settlement in Atarot. While the plan was withdrawn on 29 November, it could still be considered for the future. 

This year marks an ostensible decrease in tenders from 2012, when 2,386 units reached construction stage and 6,932 reached the pre-construction stage. From January to November 2013, the Israeli government issued tenders for 1,618 housing units in the settlements of Pisgat Ze’ev, Har Homa, Gilo, and Ramat Shlomo, but all of these tenders were issued over a period of four months, from August to November, when talks were underway. The accumulated build-up of stock from 2012, which will soon be available on the market, however, partially explains the absence of new developments in the first half of 2013.

At the same time, there has been a rise in demolitions and evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. From January to September 2013, Israeli authorities demolished 80 structures in this part of the city, resulting in the displacement of 257 people. This amounts to a monthly rate of nine demolitions, up from five in 2012, and 28 Palestinians displaced, up from six in 2012.

Meanwhile, none of the processes strengthening Israeli control over East Jerusalem have been rolled back: Israeli authorities have not removed any settler enclaves, have not considered Palestinian involvement in any planning procedures, and continue to restrict Palestinian access to holy places. Moreover, Palestinian Authority (PA) activity in Jerusalem remains banned, and Palestinian institutions have not been re-opened.


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