IDF soldiers view Old City of J'lem from Mt. of Olives 37.
(photo credit: Darren Whiteside / Reuters)
The controversial plan to move the National Defense College to the Mount of
Olives in Jerusalem is expected to pass another approval hurdle on Wednesday
after a hearing.
The Jerusalem municipality approved the location after
hearing public opposition.
The college, whose final location was first
announced in February 2011, is awaiting approval from the Interior Ministry’s
District Building and Construction Committee, as well as defense
The 42,000-square-meter structure of the college is
planned for an open area between the Arab village of E-Tur and Hebrew
University’s Mount Scopus campus. It is to be located within a few hundred
meters of the Old City with a commanding view of the Temple Mount.
Mayor Pepe Alalu (Meretz) said that the location is a “clear political
“Building an army college, especially over the 1967 Green Line, is
very problematic,” Alalu said, adding that the site had been scrapped as a
location for the Supreme Court due to the area’s sensitivity. He added that the
massive underground parking lot, expected to reach five floors below ground,
will bring hundreds of cars to the area and strain the limited road
infrastructure, as well as blocking access to the Augusta Victoria
Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran, head of the Settlement Watch Division,
said the military college’s location will have international
“It means that all the international military leaders, when
they come to visit, will not come to the central military college because it’s
on an area that’s controversial,” she said.
“This was done to spite
everyone and it seems to me to be a really stupid idea.”
Councilor Yair Gabbay (National Religious Party), who sits on both the Local and
District Planning and Building Committees, said the project is excellent and is
expected to pass without problems on Wednesday.
“This project strengthens
us and our sovereignty in east Jerusalem,” Gabbay said.
The college is
expected to bring approximately 1,400 soldiers and officers to
The National Defense College is currently located at the
Glilot junction in Herzliya, next to the central military intelligence base,
though there has been talk of moving to Jerusalem for the past several years.
The move is part of an initiative to free up land for housing in the Gush Dan
region while bringing military infrastructure to economically depressed areas in
the periphery and Jerusalem.