The Jerusalem planning committee on Wednesday approved using a third of an acre of the Jabal Mukkaber neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem to build religious facilities for the Jewish neighborhood of Nof Zion, where about 90 families reside. Nof Zion overlooks the Old City, and the view encourages construction of luxury housing, despite the vicinity of the Arab neighborhood, from which several terror attacks have been launched this year. The Jewish land was purchased in the 1970s.
Councilwoman Laura Wharton (Meretz), speaking to Ha’aretz, said the land is designated for a synagogue and a mikvah (ritual bath).
The Jerusalem municipality released a statement saying, “The area in question is part of the Nof Zion neighborhood, intended for public buildings and a synagogue. The land is located in the center of the neighborhood surrounded by Jewish homes and isn’t [built] at the expense of Jabal Mukkaber. The city is working to find solutions for all its residents and to erect public buildings for the residents of both Nof Zion and Jabal Mukkaber.”
The city has already earmarked about $2.9 million a year ago, for building a mikvah in the Jewish neighborhood of Ma’aleh Zeitim in eastern Jerusalem, near the Arab neighborhood of A-Tur.
Wharton complained that “tens of thousands of Palestinians living near Nof Zion are short of classrooms, kindergartens, public parks, community centers and basic services. The city adds to its sins by advancing construction plans for new residents while failing to permit construction for the Palestinians.” She also suggested that “all Israeli citizens are paying for the expropriation of land for a small number of settlers, who move into Palestinian areas which none of the world recognizes as Israeli territory.”
Councilwoman Laura Wharton’s Meretz party only netted two seats on the Jerusalem City Council, the rest are religious and nationalist members, and not a single member is Arab. The reason is that Jerusalem Arabs habitually boycott the elections, some out of resentment of the Jewish takeover back in 1967, most because they fear retribution. No self-preserving Arab resident of eastern Jerusalem would dare run for the Zionist city council, because, win or lose, his life expectancy would be meager.
According to American analyst Nathan Thrall, in municipal plans 52% of the land in eastern Jerusalem is barred from development, 35% is designated for Jewish neighborhoods, and 13% is for Arab use, roughly comparable to the current ratio of Jewish (64%) and Arab (36%) residents of Jerusalem.
Arabs make up 20.7% of the Israeli population.
Recently, Israel approved hundreds of new homes designated for Jewish and Arab communities in Jerusalem.