Israeli supermarket magnate Rami Levy has made made a successful bid to take over development of the Nof Zion settlement project being built near the Palestinan neighbourhood of Jabal Al Mukabber in occupied East Jerusalem.Following the collapse of Digal, the Israeli construction company originally involved, Arab-American businessman Bashar Al-Masri tried to buy the land to develop it himself.

But following pressure from Israel’s national religious community, which threatened to withdraw their money from financial institutions that supported Al-Masri, Digal creditors voted to sell to Levy and his Australian associate Kevin Bermeister.

“This is going to be a large neighborhood,” says Levy, who is also a member of the Jerusalem City Council. “Ninety homes have already been built, and another 300 are planned. There is no reason why Jews should not live there.”

The opportunity to take over the project was an attractive one, he says, both from a financial and ideological perspective. “It’s a business opportunity, but also an opportunity to invest in Jerusalem in a major way. I love Jerusalem and prefer to invest here than in other places.”

East Jerusalem is considered to be occupied territory under international law.