An organization that aims to settle Jews all over Jerusalem has reached an accord with the Jewish owners of a soon-to-be-vacated east Jerusalem police station to house Jews in the building after police move out, officials said Thursday.
The negotiations between officials from Ateret Cohanim and the heads of the Bucharan Jewish community in Jerusalem, which owns the land in question, located in Ras el-Amud, went into high gear last year after the government approved the construction of a new police station between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim.
The building has housed the offices of the Judea and Samaria police headquarters for decades. The site is located across the street from a small Jewish housing compound known as "Ma'aleh Hazeitim" that Ateret Cohanim previously established with the financial backing of American millionaire Irving Moskowitz.
"After the police vacate the site, Jews will live there," said Rabbi David Nisanov, the head of the Bucharan Jewish community. "There is an agreement with Ateret Cohanim," he added. The community purchased the lot in question, where the police station was later built, during Ottoman rule.
An Ateret Cohanim spokesman declined to comment Thursday on the group's recent agreement with the owners of the property to populate the building with Jewish residents in the future, but welcomed the move.
"There is going to be a Jewish neighborhood on Jewish land in Jerusalem without any Arabs being evicted," said Daniel Louria, an Ateret Cohanim spokesman.
The Ma'aleh Hazeitim complex, which includes the part-time home of National Union-National Religious Party MK Effie Eitam, is expected to include 119 apartments after several legal appeals are resolved. The buildings straddle the old Jerusalem road to Jericho, adjacent to the Mount of Olives cemetery.
Earlier this week, a left-wing Israeli organization together with a group of Palestinians petitioned the High Court of Justice to stop the transfer of the police station site to the Bucharan community, in an effort to stop Jews from moving in to the area.
The court will issue its ruling on the appeal, brought by the watchdog group Ir Amim, at a later date.
As part of the agreement with police over its vacation of the property, the Bucharan community has agreed to build a new police station, police officials said.
The new station is slated to be ready within two years, Internal Security Ministry spokesman Yehuda Maman said.