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Published on : Tuesday, June 9, 2015
A settler organisation has been planning the “Kedem” tourism centre, at the entrance to Wadi Hilweh in Silwan since 2003. It would have served as an archaeological visitors’ centre for the nearby City of David, National Park.
On Monday, however, Israel’s national planning committee accepted appeals lodged by Wadi Hilweh’s residents, the Israeli non-governmental organisations Ir Amim and Emek Shaveh, and a group of Israeli academics.
The Wadi Hilweh information centre told Ma’an that, the Israeli planning committee demanded that the Elad settler organisation — which was planning the Kedem centre — would have to present an alternative plan according to the committee’s standards.
The project as currently proposed could not be approved, they said.
Palestinian lawyer, Sami Irshayyid told Ma’an that the Israeli planning committee approved the Kedem centre last April, but that appeals were later lodged against it.
Irhsayyid added that, the committee’s decision was a great achievement, not only for Wadi Hilweh but for wider East Jerusalem, as the tourism centre would have been built close to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
The Kedem centre would have covered 9,000 square metres and included exhibition areas, an events hall, underground parking and other facilities for tourists, in addition to stores and offices for the Elad settler organisation.
The land was confiscated by Israeli authorities, following the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, serving as a parking lot since.
In 2003, the Elad organisation took over the land and began planning a settlement project.
They excavated the land, reportedly demolishing an Islamic cemetery 1,200 years old, as well as Ottoman, Umayyad, Byzantine and Roman ruins. It was reported that they only preserved ruins they believed to be part of Jerusalem’s Second Temple.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move never recognised by the international community. Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.