Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
State park planned near Mount of Olives
Jerusalem Post 26May00 D3
By David Zev Harris
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL -- A 44 acre national park will be built on the
slopes of the Mount of Olives, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The
national park will be located between the Hebrew University's Mount
Scopus campus, the Brigham Young University's - Jerusalem Center, and
the Old City. The approval for the site is seen as a significant
advance to right wing efforts to cut off the capital's Old City from
the rest of Arab east Jerusalem.
Within days the Reshumot, the official gazette, is expected to publish the
announcement. This permission, along with the final seal of approval by
Interior Minister Natan Sharansky, is all that is required. The plan's
approval has brought to an end years of secret work by Jews, headed by MK
Benny Elon (National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu).
While giving the green light to go ahead with the park, many ministers
including defense minister, Yitzak Mordechai, were unaware that the park was
one of 17 projects to bring Jewish contiguity around the Old City. The
projects, that will total $150 million, will eventually lead to an unbroken
Jewish presence from Highway 1 at Shimon Hatzadik through to Abu Dis, as
reported by the Post.
"Of late there's been an explosion of illegal Arab construction in the
area," said Elon. "The park status means Arabs will not be allowed to build
there at all." Elon and his associates have spent several years trying to
persuade the Israel Lands Administration to free up the area prior to the
declaration of the national park.
"Several [politicians] spent a long time thinking about it, because they
were afraid of the possible Arab reaction," Elon said. A formal VIP
residence for housing foreign leaders and their guests is slated for
construction on the new property. Elon put together the original proposal
with the help of then enviornment minister Rafael Eitan and the
director-general of the Nature Protection and National Parks Authority,
Work continues on other projects including the City of David residential
complex as Elon looks to complete the ring around the Old City. The Post
has learned that much of the middle section of the Mount of Olives is
already in Jewish hands. "The bottom line for the Arab leadership is that
it wants to see contiguity between the Old City and the surrounding Arab
districts," Elon said. Elon and his partners are committed to stopping this
at all costs.