Israel Begins Work on What Will Become Largest Settlement in East Jerusalem

Work has begun on the expansion of the Nof Tzion settlement in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber, which upon completion will make it the largest Jewish settlement within a Palestinian neighborhood in the city.

Nof Tzion was established by Jewish investors in the early 2000s and the residents moved in eight years ago, with currently 96 families living in two compounds.

– Nof Tzion

The neighborhood is considered relatively well off and the apartments face the Old City, however, it is surrounded on all sides by the large Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber.

The area slated for expansion was the subject of a lengthy legal dispute; about 10 years ago, a Palestinian businessman, Bashar al-Masri, tried unsuccessfully to purchase the land to prevent the Jewish neighborhood's buildout.

The Nof Zion and Jabal Mukkaber neighborhoods in East JerusalemWikimedia Comments / Yakov

The land was eventually purchased by Jerusalem supermarket mogul Rami Levy, in partnership with an Australian businessman, Kevin Bermeister, one of the founders of Skype. About two years ago, permits were issued for the construction of 176 apartments.

According to settlement activist and Jerusalem councilman Arieh King, the current expansion is only the first phase, with another 300 housing units expected to be approved.

Nof Tzion is already the second largest Jewish settlement in a Palestinian neighborhood. The first is Ma’ale Zeitim on the Mount of Olives in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al Amud, which is home to 106 Jewish families.