JERUSALEM (JTA) — A plan to build a new Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem has been met with criticism.
The Givat Hamatos neighborhood, slated to be located near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the West Bank, would be made up of about 1,700 housing units.
A reparcelization plan for the new neighborhood, which would be the first entire Jewish neighborhood established in eastern Jerusalem since 1997 when Har Homa was built, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, was quietly published last week by the Israel Lands Administration.
The announcement was overshadowed by the first burst of news about the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap.
Another several hundred residential units for the expansion of the overcrowded Palestinian village of Beit Safafa are included in the reparcelization plan.
Members of the public have 60 days to object to the plan.
Peace Now condemned the plan, saying it "creates an entirely new footprint of a new Israeli neighborhood in East Jerusalem."
Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told the French news agency AFP that the plan proves “the Israeli government wants to destroy the peace process and the two-state solution.”
"It “makes a mockery of … efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace,” Erekat told the Associated Press.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the plan on Oct. 14, saying in a statement issued from his office that he "is deeply concerned at continued efforts to advance planning for new Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem."
"Recent developments in this regard have been unacceptable, particularly as efforts are ongoing to resume negotiations, and run contrary to the Quartet’s call on the parties to refrain from provocations."