Another illegal act in East Jerusalem undertaken by the Israeli Government and the Municipality of Jerusalem has recently been uncovered: a plan to build a new Jewish settlement in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City near Herod’s Gate.
Recently the Sub-committee of the Local Committee for Planning and Construction in Jerusalem has confirmed a plan to erect a Jewish neighbourhood in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. According to the plan, 30 housing units and a synagogue will be built to accommodate some 150 people. Professionals (BIMKOM – Planners for Planning Rights) warn of the implications of this plan:
The proposed plan violates the basic planning principles of all construction in the Old City:
- Principles of preservation: in order to preserve the history and heritage of the Old City, any construction is limited by height and proximity to the walls of the city. The proposed plan violates these two principles.
- The Old City is the most densely inhabited place not only in Jerusalem but also in Israel; this density in the Muslim Quarter is 182.7 capita per dunam (5-20 capita in other neighbourhoods in Jerusalem). In recent years planners have been working to find ways to decrease or dilute that density. Any new project aiming to house external communities will badly harm the planners’ work.
- In addition to the density, changing the open space, which is among the extremely few open spaces in the Old City, into a housing area will seriously harm the welfare of the people living there.
Besides the above planning drawbacks and the environmental implications, we recognize the political danger inherent in the plan. Building housing units for Jews in the Muslim Quarter has far-reaching implications over the delicate social fabric of the city. The Palestinians in East Jerusalem live in socio-economic distress, therefore a permanent presence of Jews in such a vicinity, in improved living conditions, would lead to provocation and a serious political and social crisis. Moreover, the proposed plan is also a continuation of a consistent Israeli policy whose purpose is a violation of the balance between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem, creating by this policy a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem.
Increasing Israeli control over Palestinian land in East Jerusalem is intended unilaterally to create facts on the ground. With such policy Israel is violating international law, which does not recognize Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem, occupied in June 1967. Resolution 478 of the UN Security Council declares the annexation of East Jerusalem to be illegal under international law, and according to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention it is illegal for an Occupying Power to deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
This is basically a political plan that gives new meaning to the term “United Jerusalem,” preventing any possibility for political negotiation for a just solution in Jerusalem.
Please find maps and aerial photos at the following website: http://www.poica.org/editor/case_studies/view.php?recordID=645
AIC: Alternative Information Centre;
ICAHD: Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions;