Elad Settler Organization Expected to Expand East Jerusalem Operations

Israel opposed letting a private group run the sensitive archaeological park next to the Western Wall, but the attorney general let Elad get a foothold anyway.

The Davidson Center and Archaeological Park in Jerusalem, managed by Elad.
Emil Salman

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has agreed to offer the pro-settler Elad organization a foothold at the archaeological park (the Davidson Center) next to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, according to sources familiar with a meeting he held last week with government officials.

The site, south of the Western Wall, contains the area where non-Orthodox Jewish streams are supposed to receive a prayer space under an agreement made a year ago that has yet to be implemented. The sources said Mendelblit signaled he would offer Elad a foothold, but that it would not manage the park exclusively and would not make decisions related to the new prayer space.

The Jewish Quarter Development Company received control over the park two years ago. The government company then signed a deal with Elad, which manages the City of David Park and promotes Jewish settlement in the Silwan neighborhood, to manage the archaeological park.

The previous attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, tried to strike down the deal, arguing that a private organization should not manage a place located in an area that has political and security-based sensitivities. However, Elad appealed in court and won. The state appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard the case in a closed-door session. Consequently, Justice Elyakim Rubenstein put the ball in Mendelblit’s court to avoid making the Supreme Court issue a verdict.

Mendelblit made the decision after meeting with officials from the Jewish Quarter Development Company and the Israel Antiquities Authority. If Elad agrees, the state will continue its appeal.