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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended May 28, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02Jun00

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, Aharon Vardi.

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.


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