A green, blossoming valley along Jerusalem’s most southwestern border may soon
be populated by 482 new apartment units in high-rise buildings – unless the
objections of local residents strike a chord with the city’s regional planning
The residents of Givat Masua and their supporters have until
March 8 to file objections to both the regional and local planning committees
stating their opposition to the construction of apartment buildings on the
grassy, wooded slope trailing down from their neighborhood into the Refaim
Already, 400 people from the neighborhood’s 1,200 families
have filed their petitions, and Dan Amir, resident coordinator of the efforts,
said he expects to have 500 by the deadline.
The new neighborhood, which
would be called “Mordot Masua,” would be built among trees planted throughout
the years by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael- Jewish National Fund volunteers and would
push gazelles and other local wildlife out, Amir told The Jerusalem Post during
a tour of the area on Monday morning.
“We are talking about an area now
that is still open space,” said Amir, who is one of the managers of the
Community Park Administration that oversees maintenance of the local parks of
Givat Masua, Ir Ganim and Kiryat Menahem.
“We think it should remain like
this because of the nature and the history of the place,” he added, noting that
it harbored Jerusalem’s main food supply during biblical times. “It’s very
important to leave this for the next generation.”
Both the current
residents of Givat Masua and the forthcoming residents of Mordot Masua would
find themselves at a disadvantage if the new neighborhood does arise, according
Many of Givat Masua’s residents have already informed him that
they would leave the neighborhood – and Jerusalem at large – if the new
apartments are built, especially since the high-rise, eight to 10-story
buildings would likely block their view of the valley, Amir said.
came and bought flats because of this view,” Amir said.
another resident of the area, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, would lose much of the
natural setting that surrounds it, Amir said, and the new residents of Mordot
Mesua would have to cope with the noises and smells emanating from the
Near Givat Masua is the Lavan Valley in the adjacent Kiryat Menahem
neighborhood, whose green agricultural terraces held farms and wineries in
ancient times and in the spring months are “like a carpet of
They are slated to be flattened and traversed by a road
connecting Givat Masua to the Ora junction and Hadassah University Medical
Center in Ein Kerem, Amir explained.
The anticipated four-lane road has
aroused much local contention, and will soon be under discussion in the High
Court following a complaint filed by a private citizen.
“We all have the
same feeling – there should be someone from an organized group that does the
job, like SPNI [the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel], but they
haven’t,” Amir said.
In response, an SPNI spokesman said that the
environmental organization does not oppose the plans because it considers Mordot
Masua to be an expansion of Givat Masua.
“The plan is to expand an
existing neighborhood, in accordance with national planning policy. The
condensation and strengthening of existing neighborhoods, which prevent the need
for establishing new neighborhoods, are policies that SPNI supports,” the
One alternative, suggested by Amir and his fellow
residents, is to invest money in improving and renovating nearby Ir Ganim’s
impoverished areas – such as those on Stern, Costa Rica and Hanurit
“The municipality should go for this,” he said. “But they are
just going for the easy way, and the easy way is not the right way or the good
way. They are going against the interests of the public.”