The Jerusalem municipality gave initial approval for a plan to build a Jewish neighborhood in the heart of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. This plan includes the construction of 21 Jewish homes and a local synagogue. The project must be approved by the Interior and Housing Ministries in order for construction to begin.
Palestinian officials and community leaders are outraged by this proposal and predict such action will inevitably incite a violent response in the neighborhood. There are four divided areas of the walled Old City in Jerusalem: Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Armenian. Many Jewish families already live in the Muslim Quarters area, although they are heavily guarded. The municipality claims that this measure was proposed in order to protect the families already there. However, international and local non-governmental organizations point to the pattern of proposals to push Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents outside the city’s boundaries in an effort to strengthen Israel’s hold on the greater Jerusalem area.
Last month, the municipality approved the demolition of 88 homes in the Silwan neighborhood, which is located in an area that was once the ancient “City of David.” The plan includes removing the homes in Silwan, which houses about 1000 Palestinian residents, in order to create a national historic park. This plan as well is seen as part of a larger effort to shift the population demographics of Jerusalem in favor of Israel.
Israel captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 war. The area is considered the centerpiece in any future peace negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians, since East Jerusalem would become the capital of a new Palestinian state. The international community has urged Israel to freeze construction in this area, yet the government of Israel continues to use administrative and zoning methods to make the return of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians virtually impossible.
Posted By AIC 2005 Fellow
Posted Oct 18th, 2006