On December 7, the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee gave its final approval for the expansion of the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo, paving the way for construction of 770 new units under Town Plan 175505.

Some background: In previous IJ’s we have reported on plans for expansion of Gilo, including Town Plan 175505, for Mordot Gilo South. For our comprehensive background, see our August 2016 report, here.  As noted in that report:

  • The planning for Mordot Gilo South was approved back in August 2013 – a date that not coincidentally corresponded with the commencement of the Kerry negotiations.
  • The complex patterns of land ownership in the area, however, required additional planning before building permits could be issued – requiring what is called a “reparcelization” scheme.
  • On July 24, 2016, the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee published its proposal for “reparcelization,” triggered the start of the period for public review and objections.

The approval issued December 7 is for this “reparcelization” plan, and it paves the way for the issuance of building permits, opening the door for construction at the site. A few things are worth reiterating in this regard:

  • As we have noted previously, this new construction will expand the existing footprint of the settlement of Gilo, and, for the first time since 1967, will extend Israeli construction beyond the limits of the lands expropriated by Israel in August 1970.”
  • This expansion of Gilo will be in the direction of the West Bank Palestinian town of Beit Jala, and will (further) complicate a future two-state border regime.
  • While the approval was taken at the level of the Jerusalem Municipality (because the land in question is privately owned, as opposed to State Land), it should be emphasized that the plan could not have proceeded without support from the Netanyahu government – and implementation of the plan will require the Netanyahu government to play a significant role, notably in the construction of the critical infrastructure and related facilities.

Finally, as noted previously, the land being planned under Town Plan 175505 is privately-owned, and the patterns of ownership are complex. This, in turn, makes rational planning more complex and opens the possibility that landowners may be dissatisfied with the plan. If that happens, the landowners have the right to take legal action to challenge the plan, which would prevent it entering into effect unless/until those challenges were resolved. However, barring legal action, the plan will enter into effect in the next few weeks, after which we  may anticipate the issuing of building permits.