The past month has seen key developments in touristic settlement projects that form part of an "intensifying ring" of Israeli settlement activity around Jerusalem's Old City, reported NGO Ir Amim.
On 3 June, Israel's National Infrastructures Committee (NIC) approved the plan for a controversial cable car which will run from West Jerusalem to the roof of the planned Kedem Compound, a massive, settler-run visitor centre in the heart of Palestinian neighbourhood Silwan.
According to Ir Amim, the project has been fast tracked through the NIC, and will cost the government some 200 million shekels ($55.5 million).
When completed, "the cable car will channel thousands of people a day over an invisible Green Line to the epicentre of Elad's touristic settlement operations and divert unwitting tourists from the traditional Old City entry points via Jaffa and Damascus Gates, depriving Palestinian businesses from one of their main sources of income."
In another example of recent settlement activity, a new site was inaugurated for the "Temple Mount Sifting Project" on the northern edge of A-Tur, one of the so-called Temple Movements' activities. Meanwhile, a new visitor centre was approved at the Jewish Cemetery on Mount of Olives in Ras Al-Amud neighbourhood, with Ir Amim highlighting "settlers' likely involvement in the project".
"The close overlap of recent developments along the chain of settlement compounds and touristic settlement sites around the Old City and its environs illustrate an acceleration of efforts to consolidate the band of Israeli contiguity and control around the Old City Basin," stated Ir Amim.