The government has decided to build the “Kedem Compound” in Silwan
The government is going ahead with plans to build the “Kedem Compound” on the site of the “Givati Parking Lot” excavations, at the entrance to the village of Silwan, and only a few meters from the walls of the Old City and the site of the Ophel excavations. According to the plan, the center will cover an area of about 16,400 square meters (177,000 square feet), and will reach a height of seven stories. The building will contain lecture halls, classrooms, extensive commercial areas, and an underground parking lot, all devoted to the activities of the Elad Association in the City of David. The plan contains no provision for the preservation of the antiquities that will be covered up by the building.
The site has been under excavation by the Antiquities Authority since 2003, and since 2007 has represented the most extensive excavations in all of Jerusalem. The dig has uncovered the remains of a neighborhood from the early Islamic period (Abassid), part of a Byzantine structure, and an expansive structure from the late Roman period (third to fourth centuries C.E.). Remains from the early Roman and Hellenistic periods have been found below the Roman structure.
The exact aims of the excavations are still unclear. In the Antiquities Authority’s response to the High Court of Justice in 2008, it stated that it was carrying out salvage excavations prior to the approval of the city plan, and that only after the completion of the excavations will the Authority determine whether it approves of construction on the site and under what conditions. Over the years, Antiquities authority staff have declared, in unofficial statements, that the goal of the excavation is to provide a pretext for construction on the site. But at the same time the authority has tried to create the impression that it has not yet decided to approve construction. The High Court of Justice even accepted the Antiquities Authority’s argument that the excavation will be carried out with no connection to the construction plan, and that its goals are purely scientific.
There is no doubt that the massive structure planned by Elad and the Nature and Parks Authority is contrary to all accepted standards of preservation of a central archeological site and its public presentation, and that its construction will damage the ancient remnants that the excavation has uncovered. The construction opposite the Old City walls and next to the Ophel excavations will prevent any possibility of experiencing the site’s visible connection with the Old City and Temple Mount. If it is approved, the “Kedem Compound” will join the massive construction in the Western Wall Plaza as the 21st century’s heritage of bulldozing Jerusalem and obscuring its antiquities.
The construction of such a dominant compound atop antiquities and very close to the walls of the Old City and the Temple Mount, at the entrance to the village of Silwan, poses political, ethical and planning problems: political, because the compound is intended to serve settlers and their partisan ideologies, ethical because it is being imposed on the present-day inhabitants and detracts from their quality of life, and planning because it buries antiquities beneath it and introduces many foreign elements to the heart of the historical basin. These include vehicular traffic and tunnels, which distort the character of the landscape and its context.
For a video explaining the meaning of the construction from a village resident point of view click here.
The ‘Kedem Compound’ plans can be reviewed here.
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