Ramallah: The Israeli government approved a total of 6,932 homes for colonists in occupied East Jerusalem and beyond the Green Line during 2012, almost four times the number of homes approved for colonists the previous year (2011) during which a total of 1,772 homes were approved in the holy city.
According to the Israeli Ir Amim Association, the number of homes approved for colonists in occupied East Jerusalem in 2012 was twelve times the number of homes approved by the Israeli government in the year 2010 where a total of 569 homes were approved for colonists.
Apart from the long frozen E-1 project between occupied Jerusalem and the colony of Ma’aleh Adumim which was recently approved by the Israeli government, the number of homes approved by the Israeli government in occupied East Jerusalem made the year 2012 a record year for colonist home approvals in the holy city.
Ir Amim said that the largest building plans were approved for Gilo, Har Homa and Givat Hamatos in southern occupied East Jerusalem, and Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramat Shlomo in northern areas of the holy city. Israeli construction in the occupied East Jerusalem usually draws huge international criticism as the international community considers Israeli construction in the holy city which Israel annexed in 1967 as illegal.
Yehudit Oppenheimer, Ir Amim’s director said: “[Occupied] Jerusalem has become ‘Greater Jerusalem’ in which Ma’alah Adumim and Gush Etzion are part of the city.”
“This reality traps within it a large Palestinian population, with all its religious and symbolic assets, with no civil status and with no rights, while the Jewish majority has monopoly on mechanisms of power and control,” he said.
Mazen Abu Qalbain, a Palestinian activist in occupied East Jerusalem, said the area was already lost. “The Israelis have already and totally altered the holy city, killing, and uprooting all the Arab and Muslim existence in the city,” he told Gulf News.
He said that singing and reciting poems to the holy city will not do it any good, but action on the ground should be there to protect what remains of the holy city. “It is time for the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims to act if they are interested in keeping even a small place in [occupied] Jerusalem,” he said. “One day very soon, we will wake up to find that we have entirely lost [occupied] Jerusalem,” he warned. “The Israelis will have entirely taken over [occupied] Jerusalem, leaving no place for the Palestinians at all.”
He stressed that the Israelis do not pay any attention to the international criticism when it comes to construction in the holy city. “We have an urgent need for massive pressure to be put on the Israelis to halt their plans carefully designed to leave no place for the Palestinians,” he said. “This is the last minute chance to save whatever possible in [occupied] Jerusalem.”