Jerusalem Forest Is Proposed New Site for Army Colleges

Staff schools would move from Tel Aviv-area Glilot base to existing guesthouse in West Jerusalem.

Olivier Fitoussi

The Israel Defense Forces expects to move two training colleges from the Glilot complex, north of Tel Aviv, to a new facility to be built for the purpose in the Jerusalem Forest. This, according to a letter, a copy of which was obtained by TheMarker, that the IDF’s Planning Directorate sent to the city government in January.

In July 2012 the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved a plan to build an army base containing the colleges on Mount Scopus, not far from the Hebrew University. In the wake of opposition to the plan from the United States and other Western states because the proposed site was beyond the Green Line, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended the project.

According to the letter from the director of the Infrastructure and Deployment Department in the Planning Directorate, Col. Orly Stern, to the director general of the Jerusalem municipality, Amnon Merhav, the decision to revive the plan to move the training colleges to the capital was spurred by a request to that effect from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. It has already been approved by the IDF chief of staff and by the defense minister, Stern wrote.

She noted, however, that a number of issues were still outstanding, including ownership of the property and the infrastructure.

The proposed move is part of a national master plan to move government institutions to Jerusalem in order to strengthen the city.

Barkat said he “welcomed the IDF’s response to our initiative,” adding that the project aligned with the city’s efforts to have the Kiyra defense complex moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “These moves have major strategic importance to Jerusalem and its economy,” Barkat said.

The colleges in question are the Command and Staff College and the Israel National Defense College. The rest of the Glilot camp, also known as the Dayan camp is moving to the Be’er Sheva area.

After the army realized the move to Mount Scopus was not going to happen, the decision was made to establish the colleges in West Jerusalem. The first spot the army considered was the abandoned Beit Zayit base. However, this would have required massive construction and financial outlay, and the army subsequently accepted Barkat’s alternative proposal of a complex in the heart of the Jerusalem Forest with a pool and guesthouse now used mainly for various government courses.

The college complex is expected to house some 1,000 students and staff.