The Jerusalem municipality and the Ministry of Tourism are to jointly allocate NIS 4 million for developing a sound and light show in the City of David National Park, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
Last week the city's finance committee approved a NIS 1.1 million appropriation for the project, in addition to the NIS 900,000 it approved late last year. The Tourism Ministry is to match these amounts with an additional NIS 2 million.
In its resolution, the committee described the proposed project as "a unique attraction" that was set to be a "first-rate anchor for tourism."
The show would illuminate Jeremiah's Cistern, an ancient underground cistern at the entrance to the park. The ministry's executive body, the Israel Government Tourist Corporation, is to carry out the project.
The national park is operated by the Ir David Foundation, also known as the Elad Association, under the supervision of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Israel Antiquities Authority.
"The Elad Association is in charge of the entire area," said Deputy Mayor Joseph ("Pepe" ) Alalo (Meretz ), the only council member who voted against the resolution, adding that the proposal was a "trick" to benefit Elad, "which is trying to take control of Silwan and destroy any possibility of coexistence" with the area's Palestinian inhabitants. Alalo also said that giving so much money to the City of David meant denying funds to needy cultural institutions.
In a statement, the municipality said it "assigned great importance to developing tourism and archaeological sites in the Old City and its environs, which draw hundreds of thousands of visitors and tourists every year," adding that the park is one of the most popular in Israel and noting that part of the budget for the son et lumiere will come from the Ministry of Tourism.