Jerusalem residents protest US Embassy wall construction

Construction of the five-meter protective wall started earlier this week.

August 27, 2019 17:45
2 minute read.
Jerusalem residents protest US Embassy wall construction

A worker hangs a road sign directing to the U.S. embassy, in the area of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, May 7, 2018. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

Residents of Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood have urged their new neighbors at the US Embassy to halt construction of a five-meter-high protective wall surrounding the facility.

Residents complained that the wall will block impressive views of the Dead Sea from the neighborhood. Construction started earlier this week, and the families say it is progressing without consulting the local community.

The residents’ campaign is led by Miryam Shomrat, a former Israeli diplomat.

“We, the residents of Talpiot Arnona, are amazed to find that along our neighborhood’s Kfar Etzion St., a five-meter-high wall is about to completely block our access to the view which is part of our life in the area,” Shomrat wrote in a letter sent on Sunday to Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz. “The wall is being constructed under the pretext of ‘protecting’ the US Embassy building, while everyone is aware that the south side of the building is completely exposed to an Arab village, and yet we have to pay a heavy price in terms of our quality of life without rhyme or reason.”

Demanding an immediate halt to construction work, Shomrat said the erection of the “savage” wall is “contrary to the good spirit that characterizes [the residents’] relationship with the consulate and embassy.”

Shomrat also highlighted that the neighborhood surrounding the US Embassy and the nearby Agnon House is a conservation area, where construction work including Tama 38 projects to fortify buildings against earthquakes are not permitted.

An embassy spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post that “the embassy is aware of the concerns expressed in the letter, and we are acting in accordance with all applicable legal requirements.”

Citing “very real security issues around the world,” the spokesperson said “all new US Embassy facilities are designed with security perimeters such as the one being constructed at Arnona.”

A Jerusalem Municipality spokesperson told the Post that the “construction of the US Embassy in the Arnona neighborhood was approved by the Jerusalem Municipality. The perimeter fence is an exception for security purposes under an emergency ordinance, approved by the National Council for Planning and Building and the Defense Ministry, and therefore does not require the approval of the municipality. A zoning application is being executed to regulate the fence in due course.”

The US formally opened its embassy in Jerusalem in May 2018, relocating from its former beachfront site on Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon St., where it had been situated since its inauguration in 1966.

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