Update: Jerusalem Municipality Announces Taking possession of 60 dunams of Private Land in Silwan and Abu Tor for Gardening Purposes
Recently the Jerusalem Municipality announced that it issued gardening orders on 27 plots in Silwan and Abu Tor consisting of approximately 60 dunams. According to the law, the municipality can issue temporary orders to use unutilized private land for public purposes, for example in order to build parking lots, develop public parks etc.
The order included a clause saying that “the owners will be permitted to claim their plots back once they receive construction permits” when in fact it is known that the landowners cannot receive construction permits because their land is situated within a national park which, according to law, precludes construction. In this sense, the taking of the land is tantamount to confiscation since the landowners will never be allowed to build on it in any case.
The order stipulated that the works undertaken will create “geotechnical strips and landscape development, clear walking paths and create sitting areas.” In other words, instead of responding to the needs of the local residents the municipality is intending to use the area to expand tourism and fortify Israel’s hold over the neighborhood.
The gardening order is the latest in a series of development activities in the Ben Hinnom Valley/Silwan area and will no doubt complement the Elad Foundation’s initiatives in the valley and efforts to link it with tourism ventures in the City of David/Wadi Hilweh. The Elad Foundation is currently working on several projects within the area covered by the gardening order including the café it is constructing in Abu Tor, the planned cable car intended to link West Jerusalem to the Kedem Center, and the archaeological excavations which the Elad Foundation has been funding in recent years adjacent to the Catholic cemetery.