(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A shaky calm returned to the streets and narrow alleyways of Silwan on Tuesday, after large-scale rioting
that shook the southeast Jerusalem neighborhood late Sunday night injured 10
security personnel and dozens of residents.
The riots caused severe
damage to homes and vehicles throughout the area.
In a conversation with
The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that
the previous day marked the first time Silwan had seen 24 hours of calm since a
municipal plan involving 22 house demolitions in the El-Bustan (King’s Garden)
section of the neighborhood passed an initial Local Planning and Construction
hearing on June 21.
After the plan received preliminary approval,
rock-throwing incidents and attacks on Border Police patrols in the area – which
were not uncommon before last week – increased to every day incidents, and
police and security officials begun bracing for wider violence in a lead-up to
Despite the current calm, Rosenfeld said that “things can
change very quickly and rapidly” and that Silwan was still “the main area in
which patrols are being carried out.”
Members of the city council’s
Meretz faction, all of whom resigned from the municipal coalition last week in
protest against Mayor Nir Barkat’s plan for the redevelopment of El- Bustan,
told the Post they would continue fighting the initiative as members of the
opposition, and had already sent a letter to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein
officially notifying him of more than 200 “defects” found in the
“In my opinion and in the opinion of many professional bodies that
have seen the plan, it’s not ready,” Meretz faction chairman Pepe Alalu, who had
been one of Barkat’s deputy mayors before resigning, told the Post
a plan goes to the committee for a hearing, there are certain conditions and
criteria that it must meet for it to move forward and be considered,” he said.
”And I do not believe that the plan meets those criteria. It was only brought to
the committee, and hastily so, for political reasons.
“A plan of this
size takes two or three years to prepare, not months,” he said.
said that Barkat – who has been working on the plan for almost a year – “forced”
coalition members to vote in favor of it at the risk of being thrown out of the
coalition if they did not.
“[Barkat] got everyone to vote together,”
Alalu said. “He said that whoever doesn’t vote in favor is out of the
coalition, and that’s forbidden, you’re not allowed to do that.”
vein, Alalu repeated that the plan was now “being checked by the the
attorney-general” for potential problems.
The mayor’s spokesman Stephan
Miller told the Post
the Meretz opposition to the plan was part of the approval
process, the second phase of which was specifically geared toward hearing
critiques of the proposal.
“After the first phase of approval, the plan
is now open to criticisms from the public, just like any other plan in the
city,” Miller said. “We welcome the criticisms of residents and city council
members alike, and all critiques are brought to the committee over an allotted
period of time. It’s the next step in the process of the plan.”
statement from city hall stressed that “the municipality sees the plan for
Silwan as a pilot project for redesigning an area with multiple existing
“This is doubly challenging, because the standards
in the area are significantly different from other places in the city.
example, there is no proof of land ownership, no infrastructure, no
parking – standards that have manifested into an unreasonable
“Out of a desire to promote such municipal programs for the
local residents,” the statement continued, “the municipality has worked
and with different means.”
Addressing the Meretz letter, the city hall
statement added that “many of the problems mentioned within it are small
technical items that can be fixed quickly.