The Tourism Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office, in coordination with the
Jerusalem Municipality, will infuse approximately NIS 16 million into the
development of a national park owned by a right-wing group in the primarily Arab
east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
The City of David National Park is
privately owned by the Ir David Foundation, an association that aims to
strengthen the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and renew the Jewish community in
the City of David.
All construction and development within the park will
be overseen by the Nature and Parks Authority and the Antiquities
According to the ministry, roughly half of the park’s funding
will come from the Prime Minister’s Office, with an additional NIS 5 million
from the ministry itself.
The municipality will add an additional NIS 1.4
million, with the remaining funds being donated privately.
“The City of
David is one of Jerusalem’s most popular sites, as well as one the most
important in the world,” the municipality said in a statement released Sunday.
“The Tourism Ministry decided to convert some of the funds allocated to it by
the municipality for the project, which had been earmarked for building more
walkways at the site.”
Meretz city councilman Dr. Meir Margalit, who
holds the east Jerusalem portfolio, cited two concerns over the
“The problem with this project is not investing in a park
like this in a historical place like this,” said Margolit by phone Sunday. “The
problem is that the right-wing is systematically taking ownership of this
historical place and turning it into a settlement.”
“This is a problematic process that can also be seen in other places, such as
the Western Wall, where the Orthodox have increasingly taken ownership from the
secular. The same process is happening in the City of David with Palestinian
Margolit cautioned that such a move could create an “explosive”
“[The government] must be very, very careful because this is
also a Palestinian village and we must be sensitive, because a situation like
this one can become very explosive,” he said.
While the municipality
commended the government’s decision to develop the park, it was equally quick to
note that no new budget increases – beyond the amounts approved in previous
years – were allocated by the city’s finance committee.
In a statement,
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor and financial committee chairman David Hadari lauded the
“There will be no compromises concerning Jerusalem. We must
continue to build and develop all parts of Jerusalem,” he said.
of David Visitor’s Center is ranked among the top five tourist attractions in
Israel, having grown from 25,000 visitors in 2001 to 350,000 visitors in
An additional NIS 150,000 will be allocated by the government to
construct a mikve, or ritual bath, in the Jewish neighborhood of Nof Tzion,
located in the Arab quarter Jebl Mukaber.
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