Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu approved Sunday night the construction of hundreds of housing units in Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, including 600 units for the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, expanding the neighborhood into Givat HaMatos and creating Arab territorial continuity across southern Jerusalem.
The housing plan approved Sunday night includes 560 units in Maale Adumim, 600 units for Beit Safafa in southern Jerusalem, and 200 units in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods across Jerusalem including Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, and Har Homa.
Givat HaMatos, currently a sparsely populated area with dozens of families living in caravans, has been the center piece of plans to link the Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa to the rest of the city.
With the announcement Sunday, however, of the 600 new Arab units in Givat HaMatos, a continuous stretch of Arab settlement will be created, stretching from Beit Safafa to Sur Baher.
Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) slammed the move, saying that it threatened Jerusalem’s Jewish majority.
“Anyone who is concerned about the Jewish majority in Israel’s capital cannot push a building plan just for Arabs [in Givat HaMatos]. The 600 housing units for the Arab population in Beit Safafa are effectively an Arab part of the future Givat HaMatos neighborhood.”
“You cannot just approve construction for Arabs in Givat HaMatos without also approving at the same time building for Jews in the same planned neighborhood, Givat HaMatos.”
Elkin called upon the Prime Minister to open up the area to Jewish settlement, including the construction of 2,000 housing units.
“Jerusalem needs this neighborhood and the more than 2,000 housing units [that could be built there] immediately. The Givat HaMatos neighborhood has special strategic importance to the development of southern Jerusalem, just like Har Homa when it was built.”
“I call upon the Prime Minister to make history again, as he did in his first term [in 1997] with the establishment of the Har Homa neighborhood in Jerusalem and to work actively to promote the Givat HaMatos neighborhood.”
Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich also criticized the announced building plan as “horribly cynical.”
“Building solely for Arabs in Givat HaMatos is a very serious [matter]. The attempt to sweeten this bitter pill with some construction announcements in Jerusalem and the approval of [units] in Maale Adumim is horribly cynical.”