Human Rights Organization: Israel Shelves Plan for Settlement in Jerusalem

A human rights group said that Israeli authorities appear to have shelved plans to build a large Jewish settlement at an abandoned airport in East Jerusalem, at least for now.

JERUSALEM – A human rights group said on Thursday that Israeli authorities appeared to have shelved plans to build a large Jewish settlement at an abandoned airport in East Jerusalem, at least for now.

The plan for the Atarot settlement calls for the construction of 9,000 homes in open spaces next to three densely populated Palestinian communities, which will be sold to ultra-Orthodox Jews, one of which is located behind Israel’s disputed separation wall.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement organization, said that the regional planning committee meeting where the project is expected to be approved has been cancelled, which means that “the plan is not currently under discussion”. On Wednesday, a local committee voted for it.

Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum stated that she was not aware of any move to shelve the project.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed it in an internationally unrecognized move. The Palestinians hope that East Jerusalem will become the capital of future nations, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel also occupied in that war.

Israel regards the entire Jerusalem as its unified capital and has stated that it needs to build housing to meet the needs of its growing population.

The Palestinians believe that the continuous expansion of Israeli settlements violates international law and is an obstacle to peace. This position has received wide international support.

The Biden administration has repeatedly criticized the settlement construction, saying that it hindered the final restoration of the peace process, but Israel continued to advance the settlement plan.

More than 200,000 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem, and nearly 500,000 live in settlements scattered throughout the occupied West Bank. The current Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is a staunch supporter of the settlements and opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state.

There have been no substantive peace negotiations for more than a decade.

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