Army colleges to move to east Jerusalem

Left-wing groups protests location straddling Green Line.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
February 16, 2011 04:30
2 minute read.
Mount Scopus

Mount Scopus 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The IDF’s academic campus, located in Herzliya, is expected to move to an area next to Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus campus – though the location of the campus has brought strong condemnation from left-wing groups.

According to the initial plans – which have not undergone the official approval process – the future campus will be about 32,000 square meters (eight acres) and feature one large building with classrooms, offices, a swimming pool and synagogue.

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About 1,400 soldiers are expected to be stationed at the campus.

The current campus, Glilot, houses the military academy, school for national security and the command school.

The decision to move the campus to east Jerusalem was a joint effort between the IDF, the Defense Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality.

Land claims are notoriously complicated in the area around Mount Scopus, because the area remained an Israeli enclave between 1948 and 1967.

The area has a “second Green Line,” which basically encircles the Hebrew University campus.



The planned army campus – located south of the Hebrew University – also includes parts of Wadi Joz, an Arab neighborhood.

“I’m happy that the colleges are coming to Jerusalem, but I’m very sorry they’re building it on occupied lands in east Jerusalem,” said City Councilor Meir Margalit, a member of the opposition in the Meretz party.

Margalit accused the municipality of “deceiving” the Defense Ministry, and called on the Ministry to look for land within the Green Line.

Ir Amim also appealed to the Defense Ministry to alter the plan before they submit it for review.

“It’s sending a message: ‘We don’t just own it, but we are a presence here with our government and our army and our institutions,’” said Ir Amim spokeswoman Orly Noy. “There is something very declarative about it being there.”

A Defense Ministry spokeswoman said the Mount Scopus option had not yet been approved, pending reviews by both the Jerusalem Municipality and the defense establishments.

“One of the goals of the review is to determine that the area is fully owned by the State of Israel,” she said. “If it is determined that the area is not owned by the State of Israel, the defense establishment will move the colleges to another area.”

The plan for the new campus was designed by architect Eli Ilan, who was the chairman of the board of the left-wing organization Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights from 2003-2004.

Ilan did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem Municipality said the city does not differentiate between lands on different sides of the Green Line because, “as is widely known, Jerusalem was united in 1967.”

She added that the municipality hadn’t yet begun the official planning process with the Defense Ministry.

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