A session to discuss the settlement project “Kedem Compound”
The “Appeals Commission in the Supreme Planning Council” held a session last Wednesday to listen to the objections submitted against the decision made by the District Committee for Planning and Building to ratify the settlement project “Kedem Compound- City of David- Old City of Jerusalem” which is intended to be built at the entrance of Silwan. Wadi Hilweh Information center explained that the session lasted from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. where objections from the locals of the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh represented by their lawyer Sami Arshid were submitted in addition to objections submitted by Wadi Hilweh committee, the organizations of “Eir Amim” and Amiq Shafih” and a group of Israelis. Also, the Mayor of the occupation municipality, Nir Barakat, also talked during the session amid objections by the locals regarding his performance and support to the building of the settlement center. People who objected the settlement project submitted their objections separately as it conflicts with the rights of the locals of Silwan in general and the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh in particular as well as ignoring their needs. Lawyer Sami Arshid…the project is “political and Jerusalem is occupied” Lawyer Arshid talked during the session about the occupation authorities’ negligence throughout the years to the needs of the residents of Wadi Hilweh as they are deprived from developing their neighborhood or even getting any building permits which is opposite to the structural plan that was valid in 1967 that gave the residents the right to build in this area. The lawyer added that Kedem Compound project was presented by a political party which is Elad Settlement organization that aims at achieving political goals that contradicts with the benefits of the people and affects their daily lives. The lawyer said: “Jerusalem is an occupied area according to the International Law, and Israel should stop carrying out one-sided actions that could negatively affect the life of the people. According to the agreements Israel signed including Oslo agreement, Israel has committed that the future of Jerusalem remains entrusted to talks and any future agreements and planning and building in this area is a violation to this commitment.” The lawyer also ensured that the building of Kedem directly affects the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and if it gets built then it will be the closest building to the walls and Al-Aqsa Mosque. During the session, Jawad Siam who is a member of Wadi Hilweh committee talked about the problems the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh faces and how their essential needs of schools and playgrounds are neglected. On the other hand, houses and commercial stores are constantly being demolished and high fines are imposed on the owners in addition to daily raids by the municipality’s staffs to the residential establishments which create a state of worry to the residents; he also talked about the negligence of the infrastructure in Silwan. Barakat… Encourages tourism on the account of land owners!!! The Mayor of the occupation municipality, Nir Barakat, asked the Supreme Planning Council to approve the settlement project as it will attract millions of tourists from around the world to the city of Jerusalem. The residents responded and said: “We are talking about a settlement project and not a tourist project. We should take care of the residents before tourists and the presence of settlers in Jerusalem in particular and especially in Silwan was the reason behind the decline in the tourism sector in the city." A session to hear the settlers’ objections on Thursday A session was also held on Thursday to listen to the claims of Elad settlement organization regarding the settlement project “Kedem”. Kedem project It is noteworthy that the project which has the Structural engineering figure of 13542 aims at establishing a tourists’ building for the use of scientists and the Department of the Israel Antiquities in addition to building to building conference halls, educational rooms and parking lots for the tourists and settlers. Also, special areas will be allocated for tourists’ purposes, commercial stores and an office for the settlement organization of “Elad”. The settlement project will be established on the lands of the residents of Silwan which were used as farms until Jerusalem was occupied in 1967. After the occupation, the Israeli authorities confiscated the lands and demolished two rooms that were owned by Abdo family and then turned it into a parking lot. In 2003, Elad settlement organization took control of the lands and started planning for the implementation of the settlement project. The carried out continuous excavations in the area of “Dung Gate” and demolished an Islamic cemetery that was 1200 years old in addition to demolishing Umayyad, Ottoman, Byzantine and Roman ruins such as rooms, poles and arches and only left a few of them claiming they are they “ruins of the Second Temple”; note that pa of the project will be designed to show those alleged ruins.