Top Diplomats to Hold Protest Visit to Givat HaMatos

According to an EU statement, tomorrow (16 November 2020) at 10:30am, Heads of Mission from throughout the EU and “like-minded countries” will come together for a visit to Givat HaMatos, an area in southern East Jerusalem where a settlement neighborhood is to be built that would drive a wedge between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, thereby dismantling the territorial contiguity of the Palestinians’ main Ramallah-Jerusalem-Bethlehem metropolitan area.

The announcement of this visit comes on the same day as Peace Now broke the news that a tender on a plan for 1,257 settlement housing units in Givat HaMatos has now opened–a move seen as politically timed before US President Trump leaves office and is to be replaced by President-Elect Biden, who is expected to be more critical of settlement expansion. In 2014, the approval of a plan in Givat HaMatos caused a rift between the US and Israel during a state visit by then-President Obama.

The Heads of Mission visit serves as a protest to this settlement advancement. While the tender has been opened by the Housing Ministry, the Israel Land Authority has yet to sign off on it. Therefore, there is still time for the Israeli government to halt the advancement before the bidding process is finished and it would need to compensate the winning company for scrapping the plan.

Peace Now: “While the Netanyahu-Gantz government should be spending its time fighting the coronavirus and its corresponding economic problems, it has decided to pursue fringe settlement policies that have put it at odds with Israel’s second largest trade partner while jeopardizing its future relationship with the US Biden Administration. The government must return to its senses and put Israel’s national interests above that of the settlement agenda.”