Plans to build a new Israeli settlement hosting 9,000 homes in Jerusalem, potentially cutting off links to Palestinian communities north of the city, may have been shelved – for now – after an international outcry.
Peace activist Hagit Ofran told reporters that a meeting of the district planning committee, which was expected to rubber-stamp the proposals, had been postponed, after a meeting on Wednesday, 24 November, had voted to support it.
The provocative plans would have seen thousands of illegal settlement homes built in East Jerusalem on the site of the Qalandiya Airport, the only airport in the West Bank, which has been forcibly closed by the occupation since 2000.
The area is between the Palestinian neighbourhood of Beit Hanina and the Qalandiya checkpoint, through which Palestinians must pass to travel to the city of Ramallah.
Ironically, under former US president Donald Trump’s “peace plan”, the area was to be used by Palestinians for tourism.
The plan led to a visit from EU officials, who denounced the decision, and Palestinian Authority calls for the US to intervene – which it has not done, publicly at least.
The proposals would have seen the 124-hectare airport site transformed into a new illegal settlement containing thousands of homes, hotels, parks and business areas.
Qalandiya Airport was in use from 1924 until 2000, at which point the occupation forced it to close during the Intifada, or uprising, of Palestinians.
Illegal Israeli settlements have been built across Palestinian land since 1967, and there are now thought to be 700,000 Jews living in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Their construction boomed under the latest government of Benjamin Netanyahu, with Palestinians frequently being forced from their land by gangs of far-right settlers under the protection of occupation forces.