The Israeli government is planning to approve in the coming few weeks one of the largest settlement blocs in the West Bank as it would include 14.000 units that would house up to 40.000 settlers in East Jerusalem. The project was prepared by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli Interior Ministry.
The constructions would be installed on 3000 Dunams (more than 741 acres) in the East Jerusalem area. Israeli sources reported that the plan is one of the largest settlement blocs that would be constructed between the illegal settlement blocs of Gilo and Gush Etzion. Its construction means annexing lands that belong to the Palestinian residents of Al Walaja town, south west of Jerusalem.
It is meant to annex more Palestinian lands to the so-called ‘Greater Jerusalem’ area.
Several Israeli leaders, especially members of the ruling Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu, fundamental and religious parties are behind the project.
Israeli newspaper, Maariv, said that the project would face two main obstacles; existing Palestinian homes in Al Walaja, and that a legal committee that defends the lands and homes of Al Walaja. This committee is supported by leftist groups in Israel and several European groups.
Israel claimed that the homes were constructed without obtaining the needed permits as it does not official recognize Palestinian civil ‘control’ there.
The United States is also trying to convince Israel to freeze its settlement activities in order to give the stalled peace process a chance to be revived.
Although there are existing settlements the house more than 40.000 settlers and have more units, this project is considered the largest as it would be all units would be constructed at the same time, and is expected to be expanded to reach the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.