After countless delays and disagreements, the Jerusalem District Building and Planning Committee on Tuesday approved the construction of a tolerance museum near Independence Park in the center of the capital.
The initiative, proposed by Wiesenthal Center, stirred up a storm among Islamic organizations due to the size of the museum and the plan to place it on an ancient Muslim cemetery.
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The zoning plan for the museum was approved back in 2002 and determined that construction permits will be subject to the district committee's approval.
In 2005, Islamic organizations protested the plan to build the museum on an ancient Muslim cemetery and petitioned the High Court of Justice to issue an injunction.
Following the construction moratorium, head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch Sheikh Raed Salah held a press conference in which he denounced the plan, calling it "a big controversy for the Israeli establishment.
"What tolerance are you talking about? Why do you lie and distort? You are committing a historic and religious crime against all the humane values that all sensible persons hold," Salah said at the time.
In October 2008 the court ruled that there is no interdiction to resume construction, and authorities began excavating the Muslim graves from the land.
Meanwhile, the latest decision to approve the construction of the museum did not go unnoticed. Shortly after the plan was approved, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf sent a letter to the district committee, in which it protested the decision.
Jerusalem council member Yair Gabai, who led the decision to approve the plan at the district committee, told Ynet that the museum "will aim to address the intolerance and smear campaign led by the enemies of Israel, headed by Sheikh Raed Salah."
The authorization of the planning committee marks a significant landmark, and construction of the museum is slated to begin within the next few months. The controversial building will include a library, convention center and a theatre.
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