Top Israeli Officials Set to Inaugurate Jewish Neighborhood in East Jerusalem

Festive dedication ceremony invitations offer recipients the opportunity to celebrate 'the 'strengthening of the Jewish settlement of Jerusalem.'

Public figures including ministers and the speaker of the Knesset are expected to attend a dedication ceremony today for the new Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Zeitim, in East Jerusalem's Ras al-Amud neighborhood.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz and Mayor Nir Barkat have promised an appearance, together with the guest of honor, Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin.

Silwan - fattal  sept 22
Michal Fattal

The festive invitations offer recipients the opportunity to celebrate "the "strengthening of the Jewish settlement of Jerusalem." The ceremony is sponsored by the neighborhood committee, Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim, MKs in the Knesset's Jerusalem caucus and Florida-based businessman Irving Moskowitz, who purchased the land for the settlement.

Work on the controversial neighborhood began in the late 1990s. Moskowitz purchased the building lots from two yeshivas that bought the land more than a century ago. The High Court of Justice rejected petitions by Palestinians who claimed ownership of the land.

Ma'aleh Zeitim is projected to house 110 families. An adjacent neighborhood, Ma'aleh David, still in the planning stages, would add an additional 90 homes to the area, making the combined area the largest Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.

Visit to Joseph's Tomb called off

In related news, the military establishment yesterday canceled a planned visit to Joseph's Tomb, in Nablus, by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and other MKs, in the wake of Palestinian threats to forcibly prevent the visit. The visit was approved last week.

Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the Palestinian security police forces, told the Palestinian news agency Wafa yesterday that the visit would not be permitted because it was unplanned. Also contributing to the Israeli decision to cancel the visit were calls on Facebook yesterday for mass demonstrations against the visit.

The Knesset's Land of Israel caucus had sought to visit the tomb in daylight in order to demonstrate Israeli sovereignty over the site, in particular after the killing of Livnat's nephew at Joseph's Tomb last month.

Ben-Joseph Livnat, 25 and the father of four, was killed by Palestinian security forces, who opened fire on three cars full of Israelis who entered the area of the tomb without permission.