The plan to build 14,000 residential units to house more than 40,000 people is private initiative by the Givat Yael Company. As of 2010, the plan, which dates back to 2003, has not yet been advanced. Stretching from east of the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Malha toward the West Bank Palestinian village of Walajeh, the area in question extends in some places beyond the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, into the territory of the West Bank.
If implemented, this plan would have grave implications for several reasons:
· The plan would surround the West Bank village of Walaja from three directions (the Har Gilo settlement hems it in on the fourth side) and thereby isolate Walajeh from the rest of the West Bank, while disengaging it its land reserves.
· The area slated for construction is marked on the Jerusalem 2000 Master Plan as "green reserves." This designation was cited as one of the reasons for rejecting a plan of Walajeh residents who sought to expand the village’s built-up area via retroactive approval of houses built without permits. Changing the designation of this land from "green reserves" to land for residential use suggests once again that political considerations trump professional considerations when it comes to the decision-making of the planning authorities, with no regard for the wellbeing of local residents.
· The new neighborhood, if constructed, will strengthen Israel's territorial contiguity from southeast Jerusalem to Gush Etzion. Moreover, the fact that the project extends the boundaries of municipal Jerusalem into the territory of the West Bank blurs the existing boundaries of the city in favor of a Greater Jerusalem – as manifest in the planned route of the Separation Barrier in the vicinity of Southwest Jerusalem. That route adds another 70 square kilometers of the Gush Etzion area to metropolitan Jerusalem, in addition to the land already annexed in East Jerusalem.
Also noteworthy is that, during July 2010, two new Town Planning Schemes were launched for areas east of Gilo (TPS #13676 and #13677) along Route 60, the Tunnel Road. The new plans were submitted by the Israel Lands Authority. Upon approval (which most likely will be forthcoming), another 300 new housing units will be built in that area.
For additional reading:
"Efforts to get approval for New Jewish Neighborhood in E. Jerusalem," Nir Hasson, Haaretz, September 25, 2009