woensdag 1 september 2010

Voortgang bouwplannen in Oost Jeruzalem minimaal sinds maart

Verschillende bronnen bevestigen dat er het afgelopen halfjaar sprake was van een de facto bouwstop in Oost Jeruzalem, ondanks officiële ontkenning hiervan. Uit een artikel in de Jerusalem Post wordt duidelijk dat sinds de aankondiging van de bouw van honderden nieuwe appartementen in Ramat Shlomo in maart de woede opriep van VS vice president Joe Biden, het aantal goedgekeurde bouwplannen in Oost Jeruzalem drastisch is gedaald.
The approval process for new Jewish homes in east Jerusalem has slowed dramatically since March's diplomatic crisis during Vice President Joe Biden's visit, according to data made available to The Jerusalem Post by Ir Amim and Peace Now. But several Israeli officials denied any deliberate slowdown.

In the five months since Biden's visit, only a handful of small projects, with a total of 433 housing units, have passed some level of approval. In the three months before Biden's visit, five large projects, with more than 3,171 housing units, passed some level of approval. Data from previous years were unavailable.

Between January and March of this year, 3,171 housing units passed different points of approval, according to data collected by Ir Amim, a Jerusalem non-profit advocating for a two-state solution, and the activist group Peace Now. This 3,171 figure included 549 units in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood, 320 in Ramot, 600 in Pisgat Ze'ev, 102 in Gilo, and the 1,600 units in Ramat Shlomo.

Since Biden's visit in March, the groups said, only 433 units have passed various hurdles. They are mostly smaller projects from private companies, and two are in the "Holy Basin" a 6-sq.km. area to the east of the Old City. They include 20 units in Sheikh Jarrah at the Shepherd Hotel, 24 units at the Beit Orot Yeshiva in ATur, two projects in Pisgat Ze'ev for 48 and 32 units, respectively, (part of a 600-unit block approved earlier), and the largest, 309 units in Neveh Ya'acov.
"After Clinton and Biden, they hardly approved any construction in east Jerusalem," city council member Meir Margalit (Meretz) said, referring to the US secretary of state's blistering criticism of Israeli building policies over the Green Line at the height of the Ramat Shlomo dispute five months ago. "The Americans didn't ask us to stop building, they asked us to stop approving buildings."

"The thing about the freeze in Judea and Samaria, even if I don't agree with it, is it's a cabinet decision," said Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud), who is on an Interior Ministry committee that deals with construction approvals.

"With Jerusalem, it's all de facto, and that's why it's also hard to fight against it."
Ieder bouwplan moet bovendien een lange bureaucratische weg doorlopen en het duurt soms een decennium voordat er ook daadwerkelijk gebouwd kan worden. In de buitenlandse pers wordt echter ieder stadium in deze route voorgesteld als dat weer een nieuw bouwplan is goedgekeurd en onmiddelijk de schop de grond in kan. De bouwplannen voor Ramat Shlomo zijn ergens in deze burocratie blijven hangen. Als men er voortgang mee zou maken dan nog zou het jaren duren voordat met de daadwerkelijke bouw begonnen kan worden.
The Ramat Shlomo project, like many other major construction projects over the Green Line, is now languishing in bureaucracy. After receiving that first approval from the district planning committee on March 9, the contractors are now required to publish their plans in three local newspapers and start a 60-day period for public comment before they can move on to the next stage of approval.

But no such announcements have been published, meaning the buildings won't move forward.

East Jerusalem construction tends to make the news almost weekly, despite the de facto freeze or significant slowdown, because the media reports on every approval of each step of the long process. But the approval process is so long and convoluted that it requires dozens of stamps of approval over a period of years, sometimes stretching for more than a decade between when a project is first submitted and when construction begins.

The media frenzy, strengthened after Biden's visit, makes it confusing for those who try to pinpoint how close various projects are to digging a foundation.

To apply for a building permit at the municipality, the owner must submit proof of ownership to the Israel Lands Administration, unless the land is already owned by the state, as in the case for most of the large projects.

The contractors then submit the plan to the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee, the municipal body, and, if the plan passes, it moves onto the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee, which is a part of the Interior Ministry.

The district committee meets at least three times on each project – to agree that the project can be submitted for review, to hear public objections, and to approve the project. The Ramat Shlomo project made headlines in March after the first meeting of the district committee, when it was approved for deposit, or public review.

If approved after the three meetings, the contractors must open the project up again to public comment, and if no objections are raised, the project goes back to the municipality to get a construction permit. If objections are raised, the district committee decides on them.

The municipality then checks the infrastructure and engineering, which usually involves a lot of back-and-forth haggling. If the city decides too many changes have been made to the original plan, the contractors may have to go through the process with the district committee all over again.

Before work can begin, the entire project is checked one last time by a subcommittee of the municipality's local planning and building committee.

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