Mordot Gilo South - APPROVED

As anticipated, Town Plan 13261, for Mordot Gilo South, was approved on December 19.  A map of the plan can be viewed/downloaded here.

Timing: Plan 13261 was approved, as we had anticipated, at the December 19 meeting of the Jerusalem Regional Planning Committee. Announcement of the approval was delayed until December 24, reportedly under direct instruction from the Prime Minister’s office, with Netanyahu concerned that news of approval of the plan on the 19th could have impact on discussions about settlements and Israel taking place in the UN Security Council. The fact that news of the approval broke on Christmas Day also virtually guaranteed that it got far less attention in the media than would otherwise have been the case. Speaking on Israel National Radio news on the December 24, a member of the Jerusalem Regional Planning Committee stated that the plan was approved after previously imposed “political” restrictions had been lifted.

How many units: Plan 13261 allows for the immediate construction of 942 new settlement units, plus an additional 300 units which will require further planning – for a total of 1242 units.

Where will the units be? As we have noted previously, Plan 13261 provides for large-scale construction on the southwest slopes of the settlement of Gilo, between the current footprint of Gilo and the Palestinian town of Beit Jala and the beleaguered village of Wallajeh, whose residents are fighting Israeli demolitions orders against many of their homes, as well as facing near-total isolation due to the route of the barrier through their lands.  The planned units are, in their entirety, to be located beyond the built-up area of the settlement of Gilo, expanding the footprint of this already massive settlement to the southwest.

Is there more than just this one plan involved? As we have reported previously, Plan 13261 is one of two plans for the expansion of Gilo. The other plan, Town Plan 13157, for 797 units, received final approval on October 8, 2012 and tenders can be issued at any time. Plan 13157 provides for construction immediately to the north of the construction approved under Plan 13261. Plan 13157 was the Gilo expansion plan that was in the headlines in November 2009, when, at almost exactly the same time that then-Special Envoy Mitchell was in London to meet with Netanyahu’s top advisor Yitzhak Molcho, the Regional Planning Committee decided to move forward with approval of the plan (despite a U.S. request to desist).

What are the implications of Mordot Gilo on the two-state solution? If Plan 13261 is implemented, it will further complicate final status arrangements in Jerusalem.  This plan is not merely about expanding construction inside an existing settlement – it is about significantly expanding the settlement in the direction of the neighboring West Bank towns.

It should also be emphasized that Plans 13261 and 13157 dovetail with plans for a new settlement, to be called “Givat Yael”, which would straddle the West Bank-Jerusalem border and significantly extend Israeli Jerusalem to the south, further sealing the city off from the Bethlehem area and the West Bank (and connecting it to the Etzion settlement bloc). For more background, see here. The statutory planning of Givat Yael has yet to commence.

How does Plan 13261 fit into the current surge? In just the last week, we have seen the approval of the following plans, and tenders can be expected here in the weeks and months to come: Ramat Shlomo (1500 units), Givat Hamatos A (2610 units), and Mordot Gilo South (942-1242 units). These 5352 units constitute a 10.2% increase in the number of settlement units built since 1967 in just one week.

What’s next? If the Netanyahu government wants to continue the East Jerusalem settlement surge, the likely next developments are:

  • Approval of Givat Hamatos D at the January 7 hearing of the Planning Committee
  • Approval of the Beit Haliba in the Western Wall plaza on January 9 hearing of the Planning Committee
  • Hearings for the approval of the IDF College on Mount of Olives
  • Expediting settler plans in existing Palestinian neighborhoods, like the Givati Parking lot
  • Issuance of tenders for approved plans:
    • Mordot Gilo (Town Plan 13157 – 797 units)
    • Givat Hamatos A (Town Plan 14295 – 2610 units)
    • Mordot Gilo South (Town Plan 13261 – 942 units, discussed above)
    • Ramat Shlomo (Town Plan 11085 – 1600 units)