176 new Jewish housing units approved in eastern Jerusalem

Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, once sought by Arab businessman, to nearly triple in size.

David Rosenberg ,

Nof Tzion
Nof Tzion
Hezki Baruch

A building project planned for eastern Jerusalem was approved Wednesday, paving the way for the massive expansion of a Jewish neighborhood once in danger of being bought out by a wealthy Arab businessman.

The Jerusalem housing committee approved an additional 176 homes for the Nof Tzion neighborhood, located next to the Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukhabar in eastern Jerusalem, Deputy Mayor Meir Turjeman told AFP.

Nof Tzion, which currently includes 91 housing units, will grow to 267 homes out of some 480 total planned for the development project.

In 2011, residents protested the planned buyout of the remaining stages of the project by an Arab-American businessman, Bashar Masri, who sought to market homes there to Jerusalem Arabs.

Residents feared that if the development company which owned the land, Digal Investments and Holdings, sold the rights to the remaining stages of the project, the 91 existing Jewish homes would be cut off geographically from Jewish neighborhoods in the area, and Nof Tzion would become an isolated enclave.

Ultimately, the deal between Digal and Masri was scrapped, and Israeli supermarket tycoon Rami Levy bought out the rights to the Nof Tzion project.

Despite Levy’s purchase of the remaining stages of the project, however, little progress was made prior to the 2016 US presidential election, in part to strong opposition by the Obama administration to Jewish housing projects in eastern Jerusalem.