Israeli authorities are set to advance plans to triple the size of a settlement in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem, according to reports Thursday.
The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee will consider on Sunday a plan to approve 176 new housing units for Nof Zion, a Jewish settlement in Jabel Mukaber.
The news was first reported by Israel's Channel 1 on Wednesday night. According to Israeli media reports, "the agenda item was not listed in publicly available filings, though authorities may be seeking to avoid attracting attention to the issue". Nof Zion currently consists of seven apartment buildings containing 91 residential units, and was first established in 2004.
Peace Now, in remarks reported by The Times of Israel, responded to the news by saying that "the government has opened all the floodgates when it comes to settlement developments within Palestinian neighbourhoods".
Peace Now's Hagit Ofran told Channel 1: "The previous attempt to build apartments there, as if it were a regular real estate project, failed because there is no market of people who innocently want to live in the heart of a Palestinian neighbourhood. Only ideologues".
According to Haaretz, "approval of the new units would take place as Netanyahu heads for a ten-day visit to Latin America and the UN General Assembly in New York".
The paper adds that Netanyahu's trip led to the postponement of a committee meeting set to approve construction for thousands of new housing units in West Bank settlements. The committee will now convene at the end of September or in early October.
All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law, and constitute part of an inherently discriminatory regime.