Construction of Jewish apartments in predominantly Arab Jerusalem neighborhood approved

Julie Wiener

Israeli border police argue with Palestinian men in the Silwan Valley, East Jerusalem. (Sliman Khader)

Israeli Border Police confronting a Palestinian man in eastern Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood. (Sliman Khader)

(JTA) — The Jerusalem municipality has approved an NGO’s plans to build a Jewish apartment building in a predominantly Arab neighborhood of the city.

The Planning and Building Committee on Wednesday approved Ateret Cohanim’s construction plans in the Silwan section of eastern Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The site, near another Jewish apartment building purchased by Ateret Cohanim, was purchased from the city in 2005. The Jerusalem Post did not say how many families the new three-story structure will house; the nearby Ateret Cohanim building has 10 Jewish families.

Daniel Lauria, a spokesman for the group, told The Jerusalem Post that the approval “is very clearly historical justice after the Jews were driven out by Arabs and then the last remaining families were taken out by the British authorities with the promise they can return.”

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Anat Ben-Nun of the anti-settlement organization Peace Now condemned the decision to approve the construction.

“The settlers and Ateret Cohanim are trying to change the status quo in the neighborhood, and by doing so making compromise in Jerusalem much more difficult,” she said.

Lauria said no Palestinian families will be displaced, noting that “no one is living on the property, which is an empty block of land.”

“Ateret Cohanim is not in the business of evicting any single person – Arab or Jew,” he said. “We work with one purpose in mind: Jews and Arabs living side by side under Jewish sovereignty, under a united Jerusalem.”

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