Imminent Announcements: Atarot & Ramat Shlomo

The same press reports that last week raised the specter of devastating tenders for Givat Hamatos also raised the specter – less devastating but still extremely problematic – of 10,000 new units in Atarot, on the site of the Qalandia airport and 3000 units will be in Ramat Shlomo.

Atarot: The 10,000 units in the news for Atarot are part of a major plan that has surfaced repeatedly over the past decade; the last time it was a major new story was in 2012 (Maariv’s report in Hebrew is here; our previous reporting on this plan here). The Atarot plan would create the largest settlement neighborhood in East Jerusalem, literally on the border of greater Ramallah. Although the idea for this planned Ultra-Orthodox settlement in Atarot is not new, it is still in a very early stage, and no formal planning has yet been approved. Indeed, over the years, successive American administrations have successfully deterred the Israeli government from moving the Atarot plan forward.

Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran wrote about the plan and its implications back in 2012:

Not only that this plan might severely harm the future Palestinian State, destroying the only airport in the West Bank, but it will also cut between East Jerusalem and Ramallah at the heart of many Palestinian neighborhoods: Shu’afat and Beit Hanina in the South, Bir Nabala, Al Judeira, Al Jib, Rafat and Qalandia in the West, Ar-Ram, Dahiyat al Bareed and Jaba’ from the East, and Qalandia Refugee Camp, Kafr ‘Aqab and Ramallah from the North. It seems that what the Givat Hamatos plan is meant to do in the South of Jerusalem (to cut between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem), this plan will, god forbid, do at the North of it. The goal of this plan is clear: to prevent the possibility of a Palestinian State in the West Bank, and thus to kill the two states solution.

Ramat Shlomo: The Ramat Shlomo pre-announcement baffles us. The notorious Biden plan (Town Plan #11085) is not new, and tenders for the construction of its 1500 unit have been published and awarded, and construction is about to commence. We are aware of a plan for 500 units (Town Plan #11094), which is at the beginning of the planning process (see our report January 24, 2017 analysis here); we cannot see how an additional 2,500 units can be added. Time will tell.