pepe alalu 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The old police headquarters of the Judea and Samaria District, located in the
Ras-al Amud neighborhood of southeastern Jerusalem, will be turned into 14 units
for Jewish families, after a project received a renovation permit from the
municipality last month.
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The project is part of a larger planned
community called Ma’aleh David, whose plan calls for 104 housing units as well
as a swimming pool, synagogue, community center, and library. The entire Ma’aleh
David project is in its very early stages, and it will be several years until
construction can begin, even if the project passes all of the approval
The 14 units will be located inside the old police headquarters,
which police left a few years ago for its new headquarters in E-1 near Ma’aleh
This means the units could be approved by a less stringent
process that deals with renovations, rather than the multi-year long approval
for building plans. For the same reason, the plan was not deposited for public
comment, as traditionally happens with new building approvals.
14-unit project was first submitted to the municipality in December 2009, and
was discussed on October 28, 2010 and February 17, 2011.
The old police
building must still undergo inspections from the fire department and engineers
before work can start inside the building, though major renovations could begin
as soon as four months from now.
Minor renovations to the property that
did not require a permit started almost a year ago, in anticipation of the
The land is owned by the Bukharan community’s hekdesh, which
initiated the renovation request in 2009.
Before 1948, Jewish communities
in the area were organized into hekdeshim, committees in charge of the
community’s assets, like the Wakf Islamic trust. The land where the old police
headquarters sits was purchased by the Bukharan community from the Ottoman
After 1967, many hekdeshim when to court to retrieve their land
that had been in Jordanian hands, and many, like the Bukharim, won their
Other hekdeshim are involved in various east Jerusalem land
conflicts, including the Sephardi hekdesh in Sheikh Jarrah and the Yemenite
hekdesh in Silwan.
Left-wing groups condemned the decision as well as the
lack of transparency in the approval process.
“The Jerusalem Municipality
is once again playing with fire at the service of most extreme right-wing
settlers in Jerusalem, and this is being done in the most explosive area of the
conflict, just hundreds of meters away from Al-Aksa and the Temple Mount,” said
Ir Amim spokeswoman Orly Noy.
Opposition city councilor Yosef Alalu
(Meretz) echoed Ir Amim’s criticism, adding that the impoverished neighborhood
did not need new apartments.
“A public building needs to stay a public
building, especially in this area which has a lack of them,” Alalu said. “The
moment I heard police were leaving there, I thought it could be a school. And I
don’t think Jews need to go in there, it just brings us problems.”
municipal spokeswoman said the project was approved after it met all of the
conditions put forth by the Local Planning and Building
Members of the committee were unavailable for
Ateret Cohanim executive director Danny Luria applauded the
approval, noting that the apartments would help make the area more secure for
visitors to the Mount of Olives cemetery.
Ateret Cohanim is not involved
in the Ma’aleh David project, but played a big role in the Ma’aleh Zeitim
project located across the road, which was financed by American business mogul
“Since it’s already a neighborhood, [the apartments]
may not even be that cheap,” he said. “It is a wonderful site and a wonderful
move that can only add to the beauty of Har Hazeitim [the Mount of Olives].”