The Jerusalem municipal planning committee has approved plans for a scaled-back Museum of Tolerance in the center of Jerusalem.
The plan was approved more than two years after the project of the Simon Wiesenthal Center was withdrawn due to the slumping economy.
The plan is opposed by Muslim religious leaders, who say that the site if the project had served for centuries as a Muslim cemetery. They appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, which granted the Wiesenthal Center permission to continue.
The original plan was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, who left the project after creating in 2002 a design for a $250 million, 240,000-square-foot museum. A smaller, less expensive building was designed by Tel Aviv-based Chyutin Architects.
The new plan includes three floors and two additional underground ones, as well as an archaeological garden, with a Roman aqueduct discovered during digs on the site.
The site on which the museum is to be built was given to the Wiesenthal Center by the government of Israel and the Jerusalem municipality and previously served as the city’s municipal parking lot for more than 40 years; During that time, Muslim groups never protested that the parking lot was once part of an ancient burial site, according to the Wiesenthal Center’s website.