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Israel moves to further seal off Jerusalem from West Bank

Israeli officials approved plans for 2,612 homes on Givat HaMatos, a hill between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Critics say the move would so fragment Palestinian areas that drawing borders of a future state would be unworkable.

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Givat Hamatos is set to become the first new Jerusalem neighborhood to be built outside Israel's internationally recognized borders since 1996. Israel announced the expansion plans today.

Sebastian Scheiner/AP/File

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Israeli officials today approved plans for 2,612 new homes to be built on Givat HaMatos, or Airplane Hill, which is set to become the first new Jerusalem neighborhood to be built outside Israel's internationally recognized borders since 1996.

The placement profoundly concerns Palestinians and advocates of a two-state solution. They say that it and other building projects under way would make drawing the borders of a future Palestinian state unworkable by fragmenting Palestinian areas, and thus could deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution.

“I believe that Givat HaMatos is a deal-breaker,” says Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli attorney and founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem, which tracks developments that could jeopardize a two-state solution. “How many times can you cut a worm in half and the worm starts wiggling?”

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Some 549 new homes in Givat HaMatos for Arab residents were also approved yesterday, but went largely unnoticed amid a series of Israeli moves to expand building in East Jerusalem and the highly controversial area of E1, which would create an Israeli bubble deep into the West Bank. Critics of Givat HaMatos have called it a mini-E1. 

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