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Human rights group says Israeli authorities appear to have suspended plans to build large Jewish settlement at abandoned East Jerusalem airport, at least for now

JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities appear to have suspended plans to build a large Jewish settlement at an abandoned airport in East Jerusalem, at least for now, a human rights group said Thursday.

Plans for the Atarot settlement called for the construction of 9,000 marketed housing units for ultra-Orthodox Jews in an open area next to three densely populated Palestinian communities, one of which is behind the controversial separation barrier of ‘Israel.

Hagit Ofran of the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now said a district planning committee meeting at which the project was to be approved was called off, meaning “the plan is not on the table for the moment”. A local committee voted in favor on Wednesday.

Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum said she was not aware of any initiative to suspend the project.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future state comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel has also seized in this war.

Israel views all of Jerusalem as its unified capital and says it must build housing to meet the needs of a growing population.

Palestinians view the continued expansion of Israeli settlements as a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace, a position that enjoys broad international support.

The Biden administration has repeatedly criticized settlement building, saying it hinders the eventual resumption of the peace process, but Israel has continued to push settlement plans forward.

More than 200,000 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem and nearly 500,000 live in settlements scattered across the occupied West Bank. Current Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is a strong supporter of settlements and opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.

There have been no substantive peace talks for over a decade.

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ABC News

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