More Jewish construction on the way for e. Jerusalem

Building begins for 18 apartments in 3 buildings at Beit Orot Yeshiva in east Jerusalem and 130 residential units in Gilo.

December 15, 2010 20:59
3 minute read.
Construction begins at Mount of Olives yeshiva

Construction at Mount of Olives. (photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)

More east Jerusalem construction is in the pipeline, as news broke Wednesday of two separate building projects planned for the Mount of Olives, a day after a 130- unit building project in Gilo passed initial approval by the Interior Ministry.

The Beit Orot Yeshiva, located in the A-Tur neighborhood, announced construction had started on 18 new apartments in three separate buildings of three floors each. The buildings will be located within the yeshiva compound, and will house married students.

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The municipality signed the building permit, the last step in the long approval process that winds through the municipality and the Interior Ministry, on Monday.

Also on Wednesday, Haaretz reported that the Finance Ministry is trying to nearly double the size of the Seven Arches Hotel, located next to the Mount of Olives Cemetery.

The hotel is sensitive because it used to belong to the Jordanian royal family, and for diplomatic reasons the government has not made major changes to it.

The hotel was also the site of the founding conference of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

The Finance Ministry, which oversees the Custodian of Absentee Property, which is responsible for the maintenance and finances of the hotel since 1967, flatly denied than any renovations are planned.

“Our only project that has been submitted lately was to renew the license of the events tent in the hotel courtyard,” a Finance Ministry spokesman told The Jerusalem Post. He added that a renovation plan had been submitted in 1994, but it was later cancelled.

The municipality’s website, however, shows that a plan for renovating the hotel was deposited with the municipality’s Local Planning and Building Committee on July 18 of this year. The plan includes the addition of 75 rooms, a swimming pool, and conference rooms, Haaretz reported.

“This is a rare situation where you have the Finance Ministry ... in charge of initiating plans,” said Hagit Ofran, from Peace Now.

She added that the hotel is often used by right-wing groups, like Elad, for educational conferences and events. An Elad spokesman confirmed the organization hosts events in the hotel but denied that they had anything to do with renovations.

Across the city, meanwhile, a plan for three large residential towers with a total of 130 units in Gilo passed the first stage of approvals from the Interior Ministry’s Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee on Tuesday.

“It’s a plan that was promoted very quickly,” said Orly Noy, spokeswoman for Ir Amim, an NGO that carefully watches east Jerusalem construction. “They just discussed this last week in the local committee, and they approved it, and then immediately, a week later, it was in the district committee.”

Noy pointed out that since the end of September, there has been a rush of approvals of east Jerusalem construction, including 625 units in Pisgat Ze’ev, 1,025 units in Har Homa, and 320 in Ramot.

These announcements come after a fairly quiet six months following the Biden fiasco, when an early-stage approval of 1,600 units in Ramat Shlomo were announced and caused an international uproar.

“Because everything is kind of stuck [with the peace negotiations], the sense is that ‘now’s the time to be grasping what we want,’” said Noy. “So we’ll face one more condemnation, so what. You see it clearly; someone waved a green flag and now it’s one after the other.”

Ateret Cohanim spokesman Danny Luria pointed out that the announcements are no cause for celebration, but rather represent the status quo.

“There’s no reason why there should be any slowdown,” he said. “I hope things will carry on, since the prime minister and the mayor have all said that there’s no freeze in Jerusalem.”

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