Jerusalem Plans Promenade Connecting Settler Homes in Palestinian Neighborhood

Project moves forward as city submits plans for promenade; zoning panel okays visitors’ center in Jewish cemetery

A group of tourists in an observation point on Mount of Olives, January 2, 2018
\ AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

The city of Jerusalem and Jerusalem Development Authority are advancing a plan to build a promenade in the Mount of Olives connecting the two Jewish residential compounds in the Palestinian A-Tur neighborhood. A proposal for a visitors’ center on the Mount of Olives is also being advanced.

The Uzia Promenade is planned for the western slope of the Mount of Olives, linking Beit Orot enclave to Beit HaHoshen, a small settlement enclave. It requires the expropriation of private Palestinian land.

The proposed promenade

The plan was designed by architect Arieh Rachmimov, who designed several projects for the right-wing Elad association in nearby Silwan. The Jerusalem Planning and Construction Committee approved adding the city as a developer and recommended the plan’s approval Wednesday. It will now be submitted to the Jerusalem District Planning Committee.

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The panel also approved a plan for a visitors’ center in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Designed by Rachmimov, it will be built near the Ma’aleh Zeitim settlement enclave.

Landscaping recently began on land owned by Elad on the other side of the Old City, in Abu Tor. Elad is planning a restaurant at the site. The Jerusalem Development Authority has proposed the installation of a large rope bridge from the restaurant, over the Hinnom Valley to Mount Zion.

The left-wing Ir Amim association sees the plans as part of an effort to “Judaize” the area east of the Old City. “Over the past two years we have witnessed increased settlement activity under the guise of tourism and heritage initiatives around the Old City. The Old City and the neighborhoods around it are the home of 100,000 Palestinians,” said Ir Amim researcher Aviv Tatarsky. “On one hand the authorities make it hard for residents to get building permits and deny them adequate services. On the other, they are advancing in dubious ways initiatives aimed at serving the settlement organizations in the eastern part of the city.”

In response, the city denied that the planned promenade connects Jewish compounds. “It’s a plan to complete the middle promenade, some parts of which are being built and some being planned, to create a promenade for all the city’s residents and the many tourists who visit the place.”

The development authority said the promenade aimed “to create a tourism continuum between Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives, by way of the Mormon Church, Tzurim Valley, Russian and Catholic churches and Mount of Olives cemetery.”