A controversial east Jerusalem construction project, which is being backed by an American Jewish millionaire and an Israeli right-wing organization, has moved a step closer to fruition after a city committee approved the demolition of a century-old hotel at the site. The building proposal, which was conceived in the 1990s, would see the construction of 90 apartment units, a synagogue and a kindergarten at the site of the historic Shepherd's Hotel in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The six-dunam area is located behind the Israel Police headquarters, on the hilltop just opposite The Hebrew University at Mount Scopus. The project, which still needs multiple city committee approvals, would be the latest outpost by Israeli ultra-nationalists in the predominantly Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. A request to build the complex was filed with the Jerusalem Municipality last month, the city spokesman said Tuesday. The petition was filed by C&M Properties, a group reportedly associated with both the American businessman Irwin Moskowitz and Ateret Cohanim. Both have been actively acquiring properties in east Jerusalem for Jewish housing projects. Ateret Cohanim spokesman Daniel Luria declined comment on the extent of Ateret Cohanim's involvement in the project Tuesday. "People would like to see Jews living there," he said in a terse reaction. After sitting around for several years in city hall, the plan received a push forward last week after the city's conservation committee, headed by deputy mayor Yehoshua Pollack, decided that the hotel could be razed since it had no special architectural value. The building plan had yet to be presented to the city's planning and construction committee, the city said in a statement. The compound where the hotel is located originally belonged to Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, and then served as a hotel from 1945 until the 1967 Six Day War. It was later transferred to the Custodian General, and was subsequently acquired by Moskowitz in the 1980's. Most recently, the site was rented to the Jerusalem border police as a base. Moskowitz has been behind a series of land acquisitions in east Jerusalem, including the construction of a Jewish housing project in Ras el-Amud. More than a dozen small Jewish enclaves exist, or are under construction, in or near Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, where some 1,000 Jewish residents now live.


Send us your comments >> Adina Kutnicki, Ridgewood, NJ: The article on new construction in East Jerusalem has a very odd tone to it. It sounds extremely apologetic and very strange. What does the term "outpost" exactly mean in Jerusalem of all places?? How can one term ANY neighborhood in Israel's capital an "outpost"? That would be like calling any predominantly black neighborhood in Washington, DC an "outpost" of the US. Who would think of saying such an outrageous thing in the US? Only in Israel are people forever apologizing for living in their land. Truth be told, it is references like this that hurt the Jews more than anything the Arabs or the international community can spew. Get some self respect and stop apologizing for living in your land! Yishai Kohen, Yesha, Israel: If a Jew buys property, why is it "controversial"? If Jews live in property that Jews have bought, why is it "controversial"? It's disgusting that this is even considered a possibility. If it happened in the Western world, there would be an uproar- from all sides. All the more so in our country- in our capital city of Jerusalem. Veronica Vita, Florence, Italy and Jerusalem: Todah to Moskovitz and Ateret Cohanim! Daniel Kern, Efrat, Israel: In the article about the Jewish housing project in E. Jerusalem, the writer labels the people behind the project "ultra-nationalists". The future building will be an "outpost". What inflammatory language! And about what? About what the writer describes as a "six-dunam area is located behind the Israel Police headquarters, on the hilltop just opposite the Hebrew University at Mount Scopus." You assume that only ultra-nationalists would want to build in that location? That seems like a big assumption and something that shouldn't color the reporting of this issue. R. Rubin, Maaleh Adumim, Israel: It is a neighborhood being planned in Jerusalem, not an "outpost". Those backing the plan are Jews interested in preserving the unity of Jerusalem, while also increasing its Jewish population. These goals are expressed by all mainstream political parties and movements in Israel. There is nothing "ultra-nationalist" about the proposed neighborhood. Being that the issue has not been in the news for quite some time, one can hardly qualify it as "controversial." The Jerusalem Post would best serve its readers interest by reporting the facts as they are, and not coloring them with politically loaded terms that only serve to predetermine the response of the reader. Wolfgang Dietrich, Germany: The majority of Germans believed before the fall in a united Germany. The leftist and socialists gave up the hope and idea of unification. I believe that it is a matter of consciousness whether you succeed in a united Jerusalem (in your heads) or you are going on to speak about an outpost and controversial project and so on. For my part I would love to see a united Jerusalem the city of the great king with all the embassies located there. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem… peace be within your walls. I love the city and you. Ron Tosh, Maryland: My applause to Moskowitz.
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