Jerusalem Municipality Unveils Thousands of New Homes for Arabs

Jerusalem, Nov. 17 – Jerusalem city hall this week unveiled extensive plans to develop new housing for all of the city’s residents, both Arab and Jewish.

The master plan was presented to the foreign press at a special briefing organized by The Israel Project. It includes a total of 27,000 new housing units for Jewish (13,000) and Arab (14,000) residents. Deputy Mayor Naomi Tzur emphasized that there are no new neighborhoods for Jews and that all new housing projects were maintaining the city’s official policy of building only within the city’s existing boundaries.

The plan incorporates housing for mixed ethnic areas including the proposal for Givat Hamatos, which adjoins the predominantly Jewish Gilo and Talpiot, and Arab Beit Safafa neighborhoods. About one third of the proposed 2,800 housing units are slated for Arabs – in line with the demographic balance in the city.

Tzur emphasized the area “will be a neighborhood within the built perimeter of municipal Jerusalem as it is of now. We are building and developing for all the populations of Jerusalem through that geographical area."

Tzur cautioned that announcements of new housing plans had to be tempered by the fact that it would be years before anything happened on the ground.

“People don’t understand the hierarchy of the planning system,” Tzur said. She explained that several levels of planning had to each be approved both locally and regionally and at each level “the public can submit objections which then have to be analyzed and addressed.”

The complex zoning and construction procedures that stymie building contractors are similar to those in any large city in the world, she added.“It’s taking a lot of time, because whatever you do in a democratic planning process there are all these stops along the way for objections. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it takes a lot of time to get there.”

"In all the discussions you will find a consensus among Jerusalem residents, whether Palestinian or Israeli, that they want the city to stay as one, and the neighborhoods to continue to be part of this fascinating complex, with neighborhood ethnicity or cultural definition or religious definition, and sharing the public domain."

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