On Wednesday, November 29, 2023, the Jerusalem District Planning Committee approved the plan for the construction of the Lower Aqueduct neighborhood (Plan 101-0808840). Half of the Lower Aqueduct neighborhood is situated beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem, and the other half is within the Green Line. However, its strategic location between the neighborhoods of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa makes it particularly problematic from a political standpoint. The approved plan proposes the construction of 1,738 housing units.
The Lower Aqueduct neighborhood plan was finally approved after internal deliberations, overcoming objections from the Jerusalem District Committee. A small portion of the objections mainly focused on issues related to open spaces and public areas. At the end of the discussion, it was decided to approve 1,738 housing units, distributed as follows: 1,230 residential units, 262 special housing units, and 246 small apartment units.
It is worth noting that although about half of the plan area is beyond the Green Line, and about half is within the Green Line, its strategic location between the neighborhoods of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa makes it particularly problematic from a political standpoint. The plan effectively obstructs the last remaining corridor connecting Palestinian neighborhoods Beit Safafa and Shorafat with the rest of East Jerusalem. This plan poses a significant challenge to the possibility of creating a Palestinian urban continuum in East Jerusalem and obstructs almost every urban connection between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem.
The discussion on the plan’s approval for the construction of a new neighborhood in East Jerusalem during the Gaza conflict aligns with the broader trend of advancing additional plans in East Jerusalem under the guise of wartime initiatives. Recently, the Planning Committee approved the plan for the Kidmat Zion settlement located in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood. In September, just before the war started, the Jerusalem District Committee approved the Strip Plan for the construction of 3,500 housing units adjacent to the Givat Hamatos neighborhood and southeast of the Lower Aqueduct neighborhood.
Peace Now: “The Israeli government continues to undermine any viable two-state solution. While the IDF is engaged in the Gaza Strip, and hundreds of Israelis living in border areas in the north and south are uncertain about when they can return to their homes, the government is advancing construction beyond the Green Line, further jeopardizing the security of all Israeli residents seeking a hopeful future with secure borders.”