The Housing Ministry published a tender for a new settlement in East Jerusalem

The Ministry of Housing has published a tender for the construction of 1,047 housing units in the Lower Aqueduct neighborhood, which will be located in East Jerusalem between the Palestinian neighborhoods of Beit Safafa, Sur Baher, and Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. The Lower Aqueduct neighborhood is a new large settlement that was authorized on January 1, 2024, and located on both sides of the Green Line.

The tender was published on April 16, 2024, only four months after the plan was published in the records. According to Peace Now’s settlement watch, such a short time between the date of authorization and the publication of the tender is unprecedented. Usually, after a plan is authorized, there are still lengthy planning and bureaucratic processes to go through. The rapid pace of publishing the tender indicates a political decision to promote a new large settlement in East Jerusalem under the auspices of the war in Gaza, on the northern border, and against Iran. In the past, decisions to build new neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, such as Har Homa or Givat HaMatos, have drawn international and domestic Israeli criticism.

Peace Now: The State of Israel is rapidly promoting new settlements in East Jerusalem, thereby perpetuating the bloody conflict with the Palestinians and regional states. Instead of hastily establishing new settlements, it would be better if the Israeli government promoted security, peace, and the return of the kidnapped to their homes at the same speed.

The Lower Aqueduct Settlement

The settlement of the Lower Aqueduct neighborhood is set to include 1,446 new housing units between the neighborhoods of Har Homa and Givat HaMatos. The plan was promoted at an unprecedented speed from its inception to the tender issue: it was placed on the table of the District Planning Committee in July 2021, discussed in January 2022 by the District Committee which ordered revisions to the plan, and was approved for deposit in July 2022. That is, the tender was issued less than three years after the plans were submitted.

Politically, this is a strategic plan that will severely impact the possibility of a continuous urban Palestinian connection in East Jerusalem. In practice, the plan blocks the last corridor remaining for connecting Beit Safafa and Sur Baher with other parts of East Jerusalem. It should be noted that although about half of the plan’s area is beyond the Green Line, and half within it, its strategic location between Givat HaMatos and Har Homa makes it particularly problematic politically. For more information