Jerusalem Councilman and Israel Land Fund (ILF) Director Arieh King warned on Monday morning that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is on the verge of passing a new plan, which will whitewash illegal Arab construction in the capital and threaten the fragile demographic balance of the city.
King, who has long warned against Barkat's policies that he says constitute a de facto divide of Jerusalem, noted Barkat on Monday morning is "trying to put another nail in the coffin of Jerusalem as a unified city under Israeli sovereignty."
Barkat is to present before the District Planning and Construction Committee of the Interior Ministry a plan, entitled "Plan 30006", to whitewash illegal Arab construction in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood located just east of the Jewish neighborhood East Talpiyot.
"According to the blueprints and adjustments of the plan, the prime minister (who after all is a former member of Kadima!) seeks authorization of the plan" which includes two main points, according King.
First, he warned the plan will legalize 700 illegal Arab buildings, which constitute roughly 3,000 illegal housing units. "To City Councilmen they said 'only' 300 housing units would be legalized, and in practice this is almost ten times that amount," emphasized King.
A second key caveat of the plan is that it will allocate hundreds of dunams of land [1 dunam = 0.25 acres] to build around 7,000 housing units for the Arab population. On this point as well, King pointed out that the City Council was told the plan would "only" allow for 2,2000 housing units, as opposed to the real figure of 7,000.
"All of this is happening in parallel to the policy of the prime minister to freeze Jewish construction in Jerusalem [despite the fact he had promised to build thousands of new homes in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem if re-elected.—ed], which joins with the policy of the mayor not to destroy illegal buildings of Arabs in the east of the city," King added.
"Where does Barkat want to lead us?" posed the councilman, indicating the threat of demographic imbalance in the eastern part of the city which is home to around 230,000 Arab residents and 200,000 Jews.
King has previously warned that there are at least 40,000 illegal Arab housing units in Jerusalem, increasing at a rate of 700 to 800 units per year.
He has further revealed that demolitions and enforcement of the building law has all but ceased regarding the Arab infringements, and that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has forbidden Jewish entry to eight neighborhoods since taking power in 2009. King has also noted how Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett turned a blind eye to the issue as Jerusalem Affairs Minister in the outgoing coalition.
Addressing Bennett and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, also of Jewish Home, King asked, "Why are you quiet? Where are you? Have you fallen asleep?"
Turning to Interior Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), the councilman urged him to use his authority "to get involved and ask to examine "Plan 30006" and not allow discussion of this plan until they convince you that it doesn't harm the demographic balance of the city, and that it doesn't harm the sovereignty of the State in the east of the city."
[ Ari Yashar | Published: March 30, 2015 ]
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