We reported previously on the looming threat of approval of Givat Hamatos. That full background on the issue, including links to in-depth reporting and maps, is available here.
Today it has come to light that the Government of Israel has gone ahead and granted statutory (final) approval to Plan 14295, which will allow for the construction of 2610 new settlement units in Givat Hamatos A.
This is the first Jerusalem settlement plan approved since the April 1 breakdown in talks.
As we have reported previously, this plan is not just another politically or symbolically “detrimental” settlement, or even one that just makes a resolution to the conflict a little more difficult on the ground. This plan is a game-changer.
This approval could not have taken place without Prime Minister Netanyahu's advance knowledge and consent.
KEY FACTS ABOUT THIS APPROVAL
- The approval of this Givat Hamatos plan was published quietly late last week (September 24), on the eve of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana), permitting it to fly under the public radar until today.
- This is the final statutory approval of the plan.
- Construction permits can be issued commencing 15 days from now.
- While tenders could technically have been issued before this approval, almost invariably the statutory approval precedes the issuance of tenders.
- The plan is not just another politically or symbolically “detrimental” settlement, or even one that just makes a resolution to the conflict a little more difficult on the ground. This plan is a game-changer.
- Today, implementation of Clinton-style parameters in Jerusalem (Palestinian neighborhoods will be Palestine, Israeli neighborhoods will be Israel), while difficult, remains possible. After Givat Hamatos is built, that will no longer be the case.
- There is every reason to believe that this move will prompt the Palestinians to take this matter to the International Criminal Court, and they will not be without their reasons. Should they do so, the final approval of E-1 is an eminently possible reaction by Netanyahu.
- Thus, approval of Givat Hamatos has the potential to set off a chain of events with far-reaching implications that extend far beyond this single settlement question or even simply Jerusalem.
- A map of the Givat Hamatos project/plan can be viewed/downloaded here.
THE MESSAGE OF THIS APPROVAL
- As noted above, this approval could not have taken place without Netanyahu’s advance knowledge and consent.
- As we reported previously, at the beginning of September there was a report in the Israeli media that Netanyahu had intended to issue tenders for the first 1500 units in this plan in the wake of the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teens last June – and that he had subsequently balked at the last minute, apparently fearing the international repercussions of taking this action. We noted in our previous analysis that this report had the ring of truth, and should be treated as such.
- The approval of the Givat Hamatos plan last week – on the eve of Netanyahu’s UNGA speech and meeting (today) with President Obama (and, notably, prior to Abbas’ UNGA speech) – sends a clear message that Netanyahu believes that there will be no meaningful repercussions for his actions, no matter how inflammatory such actions may be politically or how devastating they may be to the prospects for a two-state solution.
- This approval is likewise a ringing statement of contempt from Netanyahu for President Obama and other friends of Israel in the international community who pressed Abbas to refrain from using his UNGA speech to invoke international legal action against Israel or demand a firm timeline for ending the occupation.
- And finally, this approval sends the clearest possible message of Netanyahu’s dismissal of the two-state solution. It in effect defies the Palestinians to now take their case to the ICC and begin what Netanyahu and others in his government perhaps welcome as the final death spiral of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, starting with Givat Hamatos, then the ICC, then E-1.