Plans for a National Park in East Jerusalem Frozen30 October 2013
October 29, 2013
Plans have been frozen for a national park on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem after Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz said the area was "devoid of unique archaeological remains that justify turning it into a national park." The park had been planned for several years, and had been supported by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. NIF grantee Solidarity had led opposition to the park, alongside Ir Amim, Emek Shaveh, Rabbis for Human Rights, and Combatants for Peace.
Meretz council member Meir Margalit, who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio, said that the planned park was designed to prevent Palestinian construction in the neighborhoods of Issawiya and At-Tur: "This was the last reservoir of land for the two villages, and the idea was to prevent them from continuing to build – especially near the main road to Ma'aleh Adumim." Margalit referred to this tactic as 'Green Settlement'. "Green settlements are places where settlers cannot build settlements, so they take the land to build a national park to make it a settlement in the future."
A representative of Emek Shaveh said: “The decision of Amir Peretz…is a brave step at the right place and time. The minister deserves praise for this decision, made after careful consideration, discussions, and consultation with various parties. It has the potential to strengthen trust between Israel and the Palestinians, kindling hope in the hearts of the residents.”
[Update 10/31/13: Media reports now indicate that the Israeli government intends to press ahead with the construction of this park.]