Press Release – Elad’s Kedem Center in Silwan was approved by all the planning committees
Last Friday, July 14, a notice appeared in the media announcing the approval of plans for the Kedem Center due to be built at the entrance to Silwan, across the road from the Old City walls (No. 2 on the attached map). The significance of this is that the Planning and Building Council’s deliberations have come to a close. The law states that a building permit may be requested fifteen days after the announcement was publicized. With that, the prolonged legal and planning struggle against the Kedem Center has come to an end. Construction now depends on the government’s decision and the funds raised by the Elad Foundation – the developer of the project.
The announcement in the press stated that the center will be part of the “Jerusalem Walls” National Park at the northern entrance to the City of David, which is also the northern entrance to the village of Silwan, across the road from Dung Gate. The building will comprise up to seven stories. As mentioned, the center will include over 15,000 square meters of commercial and tourist spaces as well as a parking lot, and two national projects – the “Bible Center” and a cable car station.
The “Establish a Bible Center in Jerusalem” law was brought to the Knesset in 2011 by MKs from Kadima and the Labor parties. The law states that a corporation called “The Bible Center” is to be established for the purposes of collection, conservation, cultivation and endowment of the Bible and its cultural, artistic, spiritual and philosophical byproducts, for the benefit of Israeli society and the Jewish people. The Israeli government stated that it will consider situating the “Bible Center” within the Kedem Center in Silwan.
The government decided in a meeting held last May on Jerusalem Day to advance a cable car that runs between West Jerusalem and the village of Silwan. The publication of this decision made it final that the station called “Dung Gate” would be situated in the Kedem Center.
The Kedem Center is a joint project between Elad and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The government’s decisions testify to its involvement in the project throughout the whole process from the planning stage, through the approval of the plan and finally in the funding of the project. This is the most ambitious project to date for a structure in front of the Old City walls. The plan now awaits final approval by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which will only be granted once the archaeological excavations at the site are completed. In our assessment this should happen soon. The Elad Foundation may not begin construction until government funding is secured. Our speculation is that the Foundation is putting significant pressure on government officials to advance the budget transfer for this project.
As we have stated before, this project will change the landscape in the area between the Old City and the village of Silwan, and will have a considerable impact on the identity of the Historic Basin. The purpose of the Kedem Center is first and foremost political – to Judaize Silwan and prevent a political solution for Jerusalem.