This week in Jerusalem 412719

Peggy Cidor’s round-up of city affairs

Beit El settlement, West Bank July 29, 2015 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Beit El settlement, West Bank July 29, 2015
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Home sweet home
Last week’s demolition of illegal construction in Beit El has had an additional implication that will soon be felt in the city. Following the stormy decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to approve and promote the construction of some 500 housing units in the capital. The new project includes the building and marketing of 91 units in Pisgat Ze’ev, with plans for 24 more in another part of the neighborhood. It also covers 300 new units in Ramot (about half in the neighborhood’s haredi part), 70 in Gilo and 19 in Har Homa. All these neighborhoods are located beyond the Green Line but are in the “Clinton Parameters” (will be part of Jerusalem in a final-status agreement) and should not, therefore, be considered as constructions in the territories. For the moment, it is not clear if this new construction will meet the high demand for affordable housing among young couples and families, but it might lower prices slightly. The planned units should be ready to be inhabited in one to two years, according to municipal construction sources.
The whole issue of building new housing in the capital is a very sensitive one. According to Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies findings over the past few years, the high prices and lack of availability are the two main reasons leading young couples and families to leave the city. However, despite the matter’s importance, it seems the decision to promote this construction has not been made in conjunction with the municipality. A spokesman at Safra Square said that city hall is not aware of the plan and suggested checking with the Prime Minister’s Office. The PMO has confirmed the above details.
Playground of the future
The Gilo neighborhood’s major playground, Afarsemon, has suffered years of neglect and was abandoned.
But no more: The local council and municipality recently decided to renovate it and transform it into “a leading 21st-century playground,” according to council president Ofer Ayubi.
NIS 1 million will be invested in the renovation, which will include two stories of playing installations, adapted to several ages. Among other features, there will be a zipline installation, a climbing wall and areas for soccer and basketball.
Ayubi emphasizes that the concept of the playground is to operate it with the full cooperation of the residents, who will participate in the process of planning the installations together with municipality experts.
This project is another example of the municipality’s new approach to making the residents part of neighborhood planning, turning them into participants with influence and not just consumers