On August 7, 2011, the approval of two plans for Har Homa was announced in the Israeli press – one plan for Har Homa C (983 units) and another for 50 units (including public buildings) in Har Homa B (plan number 12825). For more details on the and to view the announcements, see here
As we noted on August 5, 2011
, the Har Homa C plan provides for an new section of Har Homa, involving construction that is, in its entirety, beyond the existing built-up area of the settlement. It significantly expands the footprint of the settlement into a new area in the direction of Bethlehem/Beit Sahour (onto a hill that is currently covered in trees). This plan changes the potential border between Israel and Palestine in Jerusalem more than any other East Jerusalem plan that has been approved in recent years, and will make a permanent status agreement on Jerusalem incrementally more difficult. A map of the Har Homa B and C plans is available here
Given that such approvals are not generally announced in a press release, it is clear that someone in the Israel government wanted these approvals noticed, and in doing so wanted to send some messages:
…To the U.S., the EU, and the international community: The Palestinians are going “unilateral” at the United Nations, so watch us go (actually continue to go) unilateral on settlements. And given the Palestinians’ behavior, we reject any criticism of our own. (For those wondering why they are watching this unfold with a sense of déjà vu, here is an article from the archives -- Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 28, 1997: Israel to plow ahead with Har Homa construction plan
…To the Palestinians: Even as we publicly blame you for refusing to negotiate, we are going to demonstrate with our actions that we are not interested in re-starting negotiations (and we don’t expect to pay any price for doing so).
…To the Israeli public and the Israeli Left: We are adopting the settler spin that the housing shortage can be solved through settlement expansion. Anyone who objects now to settlement expansion is putting themselves on the wrong side of the Israeli demonstrators and is in essence saying that they are putting their own crass political concerns over resolving the housing shortage.
…To the Israeli bureaucracy: expedite East Jerusalem construction plans. The brakes are off.
This means there is almost certainly more to come. What's next? Watch for how quickly the Har Homa tenders are published, and for the announcement of the approval of additional plans.