Jerusalem council set to approve Jewish housing in Arab neighborhood
Several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah will be evicted to pave way for two new buildings meant to comprise 13 apartments.
The Jerusalem Municipal Committee for Planning and Building is expected to approve Monday the construction of two buildings that will include 13 apartments for Jewish residents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
Backing the plan are settler organizations who currently occupy three homes in the neighborhood. Following the plan's approval, it will be necessary to evict a number of Palestinian families living on the site in order for construction to commence.
The planning committee is also expected to approve a new access road south of Har Homa, which will enable the expansion of the neighborhood.
According to the plan to be brought today for approval, two buildings will be razed in the western part of the neighborhood where, until now, nearly no Jews live. In its place, two new buildings will be built. One will have 10 apartments and the other, three.
In both cases Chaim Silverstein, a well known figure in right-wing circles in Jerusalem, is proposing the plans to the municipality. The companies behind the project are registered in the United States, and are probably front companies set up by right-wing activists in order to transfer funds for the purchase of real estate in Israel.
Silverstein has power of attorney rights in both companies, Debril and Velpin.
For the past 18 months there has been a struggle between Arabs and Jews over the activities of settlers in Sheikh Jarrah and against efforts to evict Palestinian families from the neighborhood.
The settlers have been able to expand their hold in the neighborhood because prior to 1948 there was a Jewish neighborhood in Sheikh Jarrah. The court recognized the right of Jews who inherited properties to reclaim their properties. Since then, the settlers are working hard to convince the owners of the properties to sell them the rights so that they could evict the Palestinians and populate the area with Jewish families.
A Supreme Court ruling in 2001 included the possibility of applying for Jewish property rights in the western portion of the neighborhood, and right-wing activists announced that they intended to expand their activities in the area over that portion of Sheikh Jarrah.
"Continuing Jewish settlement in Sheikh Jarrah will seriously harm relations with the Palestinians and will break all agreements that Jewish neighborhoods will remain under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods will be under Palestinian sovereignty," says Yosef Alalu, a Meretz city councillor.