Shepherd Hotel injunction dismissed; demolition continues

Demolition will continue in the east Jerusalem hotel, despite criticism from world leaders and Muslim NGOs.

Shepherd Hotel demolition 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Shepherd Hotel demolition 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Demolition work resumed at the Shepherd Hotel on Wednesday, after an Interior Ministry Appeals Committee dismissed a halt work injunction that had been in place since Sunday.
The Shepherd Hotel, located in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem, was built in the 1930s by Haj Amin al-Husseini.
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It was purchased in 1985 by Jewish businessman Irving Moskowitz, who also bankrolls other Jewish housing complexes in predominantly Arab neighborhoods.
He plans to build 20 apartments in the complex for observant Jewish families.
World leaders sharply criticized the demolition, which started on January 9, with Hillary Clinton calling it a “disturbing development [that] undermines peace efforts to achieve the twostate solution.”
Sunday’s appeal and stop work injunction was filed by the Muslim Committee, a new NGO dedicated to preserving Muslim sites in Israel.
Kais Nasser, the attorney for the Muslim Committee, told The Jerusalem Post that the Shepherd Hotel demolition is “both illegal, and an act of political revenge.”
Nasser had hoped to convince the committee that the work was a threat to the historical nature of the site and therefore illegal.
The Jerusalem municipality has already stipulated in the building permit that the plan must preserve part of the building due to its historical significance. About one-third of the building was left standing.
“Everything is above board and clear, unfortunately, you can use and abuse the system,” said Ateret Cohanim executive director Daniel Luria, who dismissed the injunction as “absurd.”
Ateret Cohanim supports Jewish families living in some of Moskowitz’s other housing projects in the Old City, but does not represent Moskowitz or the Shepherd Hotel project.
Most of the heavy demolition has already been completed at the site, and workers are now concentrating on preserving the part of the building that will remain.
This part of the building was constructed as Husseini’s personal living quarters, though he never lived in the structure.
He was deported by the British in 1937, and had close ties with Hitler and the Nazis.
Plans for the site include an initiative to turn his apartment into a synagogue for ideological reasons.