Building plans were advanced this week for a new visitor center in the east Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Silwan and for 381 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev.
Plans for a visitor center to be called ‘Beit HaMa’ayan’ were deposited by the Elad organization with the Jerusalem District Committee for Planning and Construction on Tuesday, according to the non-governmental group Peace Now.
There is now a 60-day period by which objections can be filed against the plan. The new center would cover 1,203 square meters and be located over an existing archeological site, called the Gihon spring, Peace Now said.
It noted that plans were also deposited by Elad two months ago for a large center, that would be known as the Kedem Center or Givati Parking lot, Peace Now said.
Both visitor centers, it said, would expand the already existing archeological park in Silwan, City of David, located just outside the Old City walls.
Peace Now charged that the new visitor centers would “greatly alter the area and will likely fuel greater conflict” between Israel and the Palestinians.
Separately, the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria published deposited plans for 381 new homes in Givat Ze’ev,. The settlement which is located outside Jerusalem, 4.9 kilometers over the pre-1967 lines, is home to over 12,000 people. There is now 60 days for the public to raise objections to the plan.
According to the Civil Administration once the council signs off on this stage, there are still a number of bureaucratic steps and approvals necessary before building can begin.
The announcement of both projects comes just a few weeks after Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners who had been involved in terrorist activity. It was the third stage in a four part process, by which Israel made good on a pledge it made to the Palestinians in July to release 104 prisoners during the nine-month negotiating process that ends in April.
It has linked housing announcements over the pre-1967 lines to those releases. Lior Amihai of Peace Now noted that the Givat Ze’ev project had been advanced with each release.
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