BACKGROUND, February 24, 1997
- The planned neighborhood to be built in Har Homa is located in an unpopulated area near Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, within the municipal boundaries of the city of Jerusalem.
- Jerusalem is a vibrant, growing city. The purpose of the Har Homa project is to alleviate the housing shortage of both the Jewish and Arab residents of Jerusalem. As such, it constitutes part of the overall municipal plan to construct 20,000 new housing units for the Jewish sector and 8,500 for the Arab sector – a ratio comparable to that of the Jewish and Arab populations in the city (see aerial view).
In this regard, Prime Minister Netanyahu has recently said (Feb. 20):
- "We will build in Jerusalem, without conditions, without restrictions. We will build throughout the city… We are as committed to the Arab residents of Jerusalem as we are to providing for the Jewish residents. They, too, need housing, and we will build, adapting the building plans to the needs of both populations."
- The Har Homa project necessitated the appropriation of 1,400 dunams from Jewish landowners and 450 dunams from Arab landowners. The High Court of Justice upheld the government’s right to appropriate this land in order to meet the housing needs of the public at large.
- The Ministerial Committee on Jerusalem Affairs decided (February 18, 1997) to advance the construction of several roads, as part of the development of the infrastructure of Jerusalem, in order to reduce traffic congestion in the city and to improve access routes both to and within the city.
- The development of such an infrastructure is necessary to serve the growing needs of a Jerusalem as a major city, whose current population of 500,000 is expected to increase to 800,000 within the next few years. The resulting improvement in transport will enhance both the quality of life of Jerusalem’s residents and access from the periphery to the city center.
- The approved roads in the Jerusalem area are:
- A new road linking Jerusalem with the coastal plain, which will serve as an alternative to the existing, already congested road.
- An eastern ring road linking the Arab population centers to the north (Ramallah and Nablus) and south (Bethlehem and Hebron) of Jerusalem. This road will enable those traveling between these centers to bypass the crowded Jerusalem city center, as is customary in metropolises throughout the world.
- There is no basis to the Palestinian claims that the planning construction constitutes a violation of the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. These agreements do not place any restrictions on Israeli building in areas under Israeli control.
- Both the Declaration of Principles (1993) and the Interim Agreement (1995) state that the issue of Jerusalem will be discussed in the framework of the permanent status negotiations, and that the Palestinian side has no authority in Jerusalem during the interim period. Under these agreements, the Palestinians have no standing to demand that Israel coordinate building in Jerusalem with them.
|Har Homa – Legal Aspects|
|Building in Jerusalem – Har Homa: Special Update|