In clear defiance of international disapproval of its settlement activities in Occupied Jerusalem and in an attempt to heighten already existing tensions in the city, Israel yesterday celebrated the laying of the foundation stone of the second phase of the new Jewish settlement enclave in East Jerusalem's Jabal Mukaber neighborhood.
Previously, 91 housing units were built in the area housing some 80 families. The new expansions will provide 105 housing units for settlers. Several senior members of the Israeli government, members of the Knesset and rabbis were invited to the ceremony as well as hundreds of right wing activists. Another ceremony is planned today in a synagogue in the area.
The new units according to Israeli papers are been prepared to house Jewish settlers capable of paying large sums of money for the flats. Most of them are American Jews. The same sources add that the authorities have approved the construction of a further 150 units in the third phase of the project. This settlement is regarded as the largest settlement in the east Jerusalem.
The settlers claim that they purchased the land after they obtained the required legal license.
One of the owners of the new flats said that his residence in the area is the fulfillment of "the highest Zionist and settler values" and good neighborly relations exist between themselves and the Palestinians in Jabal Mukaber.
Meanwhile, Attorney Hussain Ubaydat, a resident of Jabal Mukaber said that for years he has been spearheading a legal case on behalf of human rights organizations and families to prevent the seizure of their land by the settlers. He pointed out that the Israeli High Court had previously issued a ruling calling for a freeze of the settlement activity in the area but the settlers "are determined to throw us out of our homes and evict us from the area… we would not allow this and we would struggle to prevent our expulsion."
The deputy head of he Israeli municipality in Jerusalem on his part described the foundation laying ceremony as a "provocation and will lead to an escalation of tensions in the city."