Skip to main content

Planned construction encroaches on Temple Mount, Western Wall

Palestinians have not reacted to the wave of plans approved lately by Jerusalem's planning committee to build rabbinical colleges and a Jewish visitor center at the heart of East Jerusalem.
A mounted-Israeli policeman (R) guards near Palestinians, some stone-throwing protesters, during clashes at a house demolition in the mostly Arab neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem January 28, 2013. Israeli police spokesman said five Palestinians were arrested at the scene of a house demolition in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood after they threw stones at Israeli policemen who were present at the scene to prevent disturbances during the demolition of the unauthorized structure. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (JE

In the shadow of the crisis in negotiations with the Palestinians, and at the height of the storm about the conviction of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a dramatic decision was made in Jerusalem. This decision could bring about the collapse of the diplomatic process that’s hanging by a thread. The decision made on March 27 by Jerusalem’s District Planning and Building Committee makes the tender published several days later for the construction of 708 housing units in the city’s Gilo neighborhood look like a confidence-building measure.

The committee gave a settlers’ organization permission to erect a grandiose edifice in the upper part of the Arab Silwan neighborhood, adjacent to the walls of the Old City — in the heart of one of the most explosive sites in the world. A narrow road is the only dividing line between the complex, designed to serve as a “visitor center” for the El’ad Association and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif. Despite the fact that since the days of the British mandate, through the zoning plans drawn up under Israeli rule, the city’s planning principles forbade new construction within 75 meters (250 feet) of the wall, the committee approved a massive, tall building within 20 meters (65 feet) of the wall.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.