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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Construction begins for Jewish housing in Sheikh Jarrah

Construction began this week at the site of the former Shepherd's Hotel in the Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon HaTzadik) section of Jerusalem. Twenty Jewish housing units are being built on the site once owned by the founder of 'Palestinian' nationalism and Nazi-lover Haj Amin al-Husseini. Al-Husseini was Yasser Arafat's uncle.
While the project is not a municipal initiative and is instead being advanced by US businessman Irving Moskowitz, a private investor, the plan for the Shepherd's Hotel – namely to convert the building, which was once used as a villa by Haj Amin al-Husseini, into 20 new housing units for Jewish residents – has in the past drawn criticism from the US, which has made clear its opposition to further Israeli construction in the eastern neighborhoods of the capital.


At the Shepherd's Hotel on Monday, a vehicle performing geo-technical engineering tests at the site was visible in the parking lot of the fenced-off compound, where it was drilling large rods into the ground.

"This is the second day we've been out here," one of the workers told the Jerusalem Post.

"This is the first step, we're performing different tests in the soil," he said. "No other work has begun inside the compound itself."

Nonetheless, the start of construction has already drawn criticism in Israel where Peace Now, which released a statement on Sunday regarding the plan, said that "the mayor of Jerusalem and his right-wing partners are continuing to determine facts on the ground and harm Israel's political status."

"Netanyahu must order [Jerusalem Mayor Nir] Barkat to stop the construction in Sheikh Jarrah immediately," the statement said.

In response, Stephan Miller, a spokesman for Mayor Barkat told the Post on Monday that the Shepherd's Hotel investors had received final approval for the plan in March, and after finalizing their payments to the municipality for the proper building permits, it was up to the investors as to when and where they would start construction.

"There's nothing new here," Miller said. "The investors presented their plan [to the municipality] in July 2009, they received final approval in March of this year, and after paying the final fee to municipality, any private resident, citizen or contractor can begin to build whenever they want."

"Once any construction project in the city of Jerusalem has completed the permit process and paid all relevant fees to the municipality, it can begin construction, irrelevant of the race, religion, creed and gender," he added.
There is no legal basis for stopping construction. But don't be too sure that construction will actually continue. This is Israel, where anything is possible.


At 9:37 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the US Consulate goons found a pretext to get Obumbler to pressure Netanyahu to cancel the Shimon Ha Tzaddik project. And Carl - please stop using the Arabic name in your headline. It implies there is no Jewish connection to Jerusalem.

Let's have the world remember a venerated Jewish saint is buried there.


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