Postponing the decision regarding the appeals filed against “Kedem” settlement project
The District Court judges postponed last Monday the decision regarding the appeals filed in the name of “Wadi Hilweh Committee-Silwan” against the settlement project known as “Kedem compound- City of David- Old City of Jerusalem” which is intended to be built by Elad settlement association at the entrance of Wadi Hilweh neighborhood in Silwan across from Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Wadi Hilweh Committee explained that lawyer Sami Arshid, representative of residents of Wadi Hilweh neighborhood that objected to the settlement project. He submitted a petition a year and a half ago against the approval of Kedem project by the Council for planning and building. A hearing session was held last Monday at the District Court where the objections to the settlement project were heard.
Lawyer Arshid spoke about the damage resulting from the establishment of a settlement complex on the land of Silwan without attention to their needs, because its purpose is to serve "tourism, archeology and settlers."
Arshid stressed that the Elad settlement association seeks to achieve political objectives behind the plan. The plan isolates the original inhabitants of Silwan from their natural surroundings and Old Jerusalem. It will also change the historical and archaeological features of the village. The plan establishes the occupation authority and practices only Jewish ideology.
Arshid said the Regional Council rejected all the appeals filed against the Kedem project in March 2016 following political interventions on the highest level, and therefore ratified the draft and cancelled the decision of the "Supreme Planning Council Appeals Committee", which canceled the project in June 2015, and attributed the decision of the District Committee that ratified the project in 2014.
Arshid explained that the project aims to build a huge building of 6 floors (12 thousand square meters) for the use of scientists and the Department of Israeli Antiquities, in addition to the conferences halls, educational rooms, parking for tourists and settlers, tourist uses, shops and private offices of Elad settlement association.
Wadi Hilweh Information Center and Wadi Hilweh Committee warned in a joint statement that this huge project was being constructed against the southern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque, explaining that the residents of Silwan had fought a number of years ago to prevent the implementation of this settlement project.
The Center and the Committee called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to intervene immediately, because this project is a prejudice to a historic city registered in heritage threatened, and called on the international community to support the residents of the neighborhood to prevent the implementation of this scheme.
The committee added that 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”.
Wadi Hilweh Committee explained that Israeli intelligence personnel requested last Sunday night Ahmad Qaraeen, member of the committee, and Jawad Siam for interrogation at Salah Eddin Street police station in Jerusalem regarding Monday’s hearing session, and warned them not to demonstrate in front of the court.
The District court guards also obstructed the entry of a group of journalists and residents of Silwan to the court to attend the hearing. They also prevented residents from entering the court and allowed only a few, while police officers were present inside and around the court.