Photo: Gil Yohanan
Silwan in Jerusalem
Photo: Yonatan Mizrahi
A plan to build about 150 housing units for Jews in Jerusalem's Palestinian neighborhoods moved forward in the first half of 2009, according to a report published Thursday by coexistence non-profit group, Ir Amim. According to the group, this would mean that 750 Jewish residents would join some 2,000 already living in Arab neighborhoods in the east of the city.
"These settlements create a continuity of Jewish population in the neighborhoods surrounding the Old City and settles settlers in the area that is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the report said.
According to the document, building plans are progressing in the neighborhood Ras al-Amud, where the erection of 104 housing units is planned, and in the Wadi Hilwe compound in the Silwan neighborhood, where another 20 units will be built. The Shepherd Hotel compound in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood is the planned site for another 30 such units.
Authors of the report noted that a bulk of the building activity is being spearheaded by the groups Elad and Ateret Cohanim.
According to the report, "This activity is part of an organized strategic move, coordinated with and advanced by various government authorities and Jerusalem Municipality."
Ir Amim's Executive Director Yudith Oppenheimer said, "The objective of these plans has been recently exposed along with the accompanying evictions. The goal is to notably expand the settlements, and they are particularly worrisome."
Oppenheimer explained, "In a number of cases, these settlements dissect Palestinian neighborhoods, damage the existing population, and are likely to ignite this area, which is very sensitive." According to her, "Adding 150 housing units to the settlers in the area that is the cornerstone of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to thwart any future possibility for a consensual political solution to the conflict."
According to the report, about half of the Jewish residents in the Arab neighborhoods live in the Christian and Muslim quarters of the Old City. The report noted that 170 Jews live in A-Tur, 250 in Ras al-Amud, 280 in Silwan, 50 in Sheikh Jarrah, and hundreds reside in the new neighborhood Nof Tzion in the heart of Jabel Mukaber.