After Holyland, Groups Take on Proposed Old City 'Monstrosity’

Right-wing Elad association proposing massive museum and visitor center complex as gateway to City of David.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Visitors at the City of David site in East Jerusalem.
Visitors at the City of David site in East Jerusalem.Credit: Emil Salman
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee is to discuss objections Thursday to a plan for a huge structure to be built very close to the walls of the Old City.

The proposal, submitted by the Elad association, a right-wing group that administers the City of David National Park, and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, has the support of the Jerusalem municipality. It has now emerged that the municipality’s conservation committee did not approve the plan in its current extensive form.

The plan calls for the construction of a museum, visitor center and auditorium in the area known as the Givati parking lot, some 20 meters from the Old City wall and 100 meters from the Western Wall. It will also constitute a new gateway to the City of David National Park. The building is to be 7 meters tall and cover 16,600 square meters. Beneath a planned parking lot, finds discovered at the site in recent years are to be preserved and made accessible.

A coalition of public figures, architects, Israel Prize laureates and academics have come out against the plan. Jerusalem architect and scholar David Kroyanker told Haaretz: “I know Jerusalem planning for 45 years now and have never encountered a plan with such temerity and such fatal potential as this plan.”

“Just a few days after the conviction of those responsible for the Holyland project, the Jerusalem municipality and state authorities are once again promoting the construction of an architectural monstrosity in Jerusalem, showing contempt for planning procedures and proper administration,” Yehudit Oppenheimer, the director general of Ir Amim, a left-wing association that seeks to make Jerusalem equitable for Jewish and Arab residents, said. “There is no doubt that the initiators of the plan want to deepen the settler project in East Jerusalem.”

The Jerusalem municipality said it viewed construction of the complex, known as the Kedem complex, as very important “because of the fact that the number of tourists to the area is growing and will reach some 20 million annually.”

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