Work has begun on the expansion of Nof Tzion colony in Jabal Mukkaber, occupied East Jerusalem, which when completed will become "the largest Jewish settlement within a Palestinian neighbourhood in the city", reported Haaretz.
Nof Tzion was first established in the early 2000s, with settlers moving in eight years ago. The settlement currently houses 96 families living in two compounds.
The land to be used for the settlement's expansion was bought by Israeli supermarket mogul Rami Levy, in partnership with Australian businessman, Kevin Bermeister, one of the founders of Skype.
Two years ago, Israeli occupation authorities issued permits for the construction of 176 flats. However, according to Jerusalem councillor and settler activist Arieh King, "the current expansion is only the first phase, with another 300 housing units expected to be approved".
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"I am very happy that this most significant project in terms of the greatest extent of construction and number of apartments around the Old City, is moving forward," King said.
"Nof Tzion is to be the largest and most central neighbourhood around the Old City and with God's help in the coming years, other significant neighbourhoods will join it," he added.
"The expansion of the settlement into the neighbourhood of Jabal Mukkaber is a symbol of the Israel government's choice to prevent the possibility of an agreement in Jerusalem and to continue to impose its rule on the residents of East Jerusalem without equal rights and with increasing oppression," said Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher with the NGO Ir Amim.