Housing Approved for Jews in East Jerusalem’s Silwan Neighborhood

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had sought to avert the move in order to prevent controversy in the largely Palestinian neighborhood.

The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee has approved a construction permit for a three-unit building intended for Jews in the largely Palestinian Silwan neighborhood.
The Ateret Cohanim nonprofit group is behind the plan, one of its latest efforts to expand the Jewish presence in the East Jerusalem neighborhood. The new building will go up near Beit Yonatan, where Ateret Cohanim began settling Jewish families in 2004.
The land for the new building was sold to Ateret Cohanim by the Justice Ministry’s administrator general. The Prime Minister’s Office had put heavy pressure on the city not to approve the plan out of fears it would heighten tensions and damage Israel’s image, say sources involved in the matter.
Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to prevent approval. In return, Barkat asked Netanyahu to endorse a stop-work order on construction by the Islamic Waqf religious trust in the Temple Mount area.
At the time, the Jerusalem municipal spokesman denied any linkage between the building permit and any stop-work order. Later the planning committee took the building permit off its agenda, but on Wednesday the matter was brought up for a vote and passed.
Eldad Rabinowicz, the lawyer who filed the request for the permit, said his side was “happy the city had approved the granting of a building permit on Jewish land.” He called the move “historic justice” for efforts that began with the First Aliyah, the start of Jewish immigration in 1882.
“We believe that this approval represents a statement of intentions by the Jerusalem municipality to develop the neighborhood for the benefit of all its residents,” he said.
Laura Wharton, a Jerusalem city council member (Meretz), condemned the approval of the building permit, calling it “another scandal in the Jerusalem municipality’s initiative intended to make noise, express support for the extreme right and advance plans that violate international law. This is a political plan that doesn’t even meet professional standards."
As Wharton put it, “It’s a shame there’s no one to stop the city’s recklessness that embarrasses its residents and endangers the little quiet there is .... City hall has become a circus, but the fire jugglers are throwing the torches at the audience.”
Ir Amim, a non-profit group that in part advocates for more equitable distribution of the city's resources to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, said: "The Netanyahu government has enabled yet another destructive step in one of the most sensitive areas of Jerusalem. In the process, it is showing its determination to foil any diplomatic solution to Israel's citizens and to the entire world, as well as demonstrating its lack of interest in improving the situation in Jerusalem."

Nir Hasson
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.725183Schermata 2016 06 15 alle 17.03.24

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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