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Israel stalls plans to build 9,000 settlement units in occupied Jerusalem

A general view shows the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, near the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on 28 October 2021 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images]
A general view shows the Israeli settlement in the West Bank on 28 October 2021 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images]

Israeli occupation authorities appear to have stalled plans to build 9,000 settlement units on the site of the deserted Qalandia Airport in the occupied West Bank, according to a rights group.

Peace Now activist, Hagit Ofran, said a district planning committee meeting at which the project was expected to be approved has been cancelled, meaning "the plan is off the table for now."

This comes after a local committee had voted in support of it on Wednesday.

The project plans to transform the 124-hectare airport site, which operated from 1924 to 2000, into a new settlement, with parks, hotels, public buildings, commercial areas and housing.

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On Monday, a delegation of European Union officials visited the site. The EU Representative to the PA, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, said that the plan jeopardised a potential two-state resolution to the conflict and helped sever Jerusalem from the West Bank.

"Jerusalem is a living, breathing, growing capital city of the state of Israel," Deputy Mayor, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum said. "The housing project will provide thousands of much-needed housing units."

The Times of Israel said the site was designated as a Palestinian tourism zone in former US President Donald Trump's "deal of the century".

Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law and have previously been criticised by US President Joe Biden, as "eroding" prospects of a two-state solution, but Israel has continued to advance settlement plans.

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The PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that "this settlement plan aims to complete the separation of Jerusalem from its Palestinian surroundings from the north as part of a process to Judaise the city and change its historical, legal and demographic reality and remove it from any future negotiations."

The Ministry said that it considers it "extremely dangerous to complete the process of separating Jerusalem from its Palestinian surroundings, especially because of the repercussions of this move on the chances of implementing the principle of the two-state solution."

The PA Ministry called on the international community, the US administration and the countries that claim to adhere to the two-state solution to intervene immediately and urgently to stop the implementation of Israel's "colonial projects and schemes that perpetuate the occupation, settlement and apartheid regime."

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