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Israeli Plan for New Jerusalem Neighborhood Raises Palestinian Ire

PLO condemns construction plan for some 15,000 housing units over the Green Line. Municipality: Project involves employment zone, not homes.

An Israeli plan to build a new neighborhood outside Jerusalem, as reported last week, has raised the ire of Palestinian leaders. The land in question is located near the abandoned Atarot airport, north of the city.
Media reports about the scheme triggered a wave of reactions in Palestinian circles, and the subject was also discussed at a meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Executive Committee on Saturday night in Ramallah.
“The PLO Executive Committee will use any means at its disposal to oppose this plan, and will sue Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat [at the International Criminal Court in the Hague] since the area in question is occupied Palestinian land,” the committee stated, adding that the project would thwart Palestinian plans for developing a landing strip on the spot.
Israel's Walla news website had reported last week that the city of Jerusalem is pushing a plan to build a new neighborhood near the abandoned Atarot airport, not far from the checkpoint near the Qalandiyah refugee camp checkpoint. The plan, supposedly calling for some 15,000 new housing units, was initiated about a decade ago but nothing was ever done about it, the report said.
The Jerusalem Municipality, however, has denied the Walla report.
“The idea of establishing the neighborhood was brought up in the past by various elements, but given the dearth of employment zones in the city, the major of Jerusalem has said that the land be developed to that end: to create jobs,” it said.
Meanwhile, the city noted that it is promoting construction of 85,000 apartments in existing neighborhoods by means of urban renewal programs, in the hope that they will encourage young people to stay in the city.
In response to the item about the project near Qalandiyah, the Waqf, which runs the Temple Mount site in the Old City of Jerusalem, announced Sunday that such a move by Israel could lead to a serious escalation in tensions.
The Waqf also claimed that now, during the holy month of Ramadan, Israel is still allowing Jews to visit the sensitive Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the mount, but isn’t letting Palestinians in. Moreover, the Waqf said that Israel is detaining and arresting its officials, and is preventing worshippers from bringing into the mosque special foods used for breaking the daily fast during the holiday, to the detriment of thousands of believers.

Jack Khoury
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.724705Schermata 2016 06 13 alle 21.37.46

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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