While negotiations are taking place between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, Israel continues to create facts on the ground and maintain control over Area “C” and East Jerusalem. On 14 November in the Ministry of the Interior, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved a plan establishing a national park on the eastern slopes of Mount Scopus, between the Palestinian neighborhoods of Issawiya and a-Tur. The decision was taken despite the opposition of Environment Minister Amir Peretz, and after a marathon session in which residents assisted by the NGO “Bimkom” presented alternatives to the plan.
According to Director of International Relations & Advocacy Betty Herschman of Ir Amim (“City of Peoples”), an organization which “seeks to render Jerusalem a more equitable and sustainable city for the Israelis and Palestinians who share it,” the plan has grave humanitarian concerns for the 50,000 Palestinian residents of Issawiya and A-Tur, does not comply with land usage designations in the Jerusalem 2000 Master Plan, and undercuts the viability of a viable Palestinian state by connecting Hebrew University to the controversial E-1/Ma’ale Adumim land mass.
Israel Social TV published the following report about the politics of district planning and establishing National Parks in Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem, a subject that is making headlines again in Haaretz today as legal challenges mount against the construction of a visitor’s center in Silwan/City of David that was announced at the same time.