Controversial National Park Plan in East Jerusalem Put on Hold

23 September 2014

The appeals committee of the National Planning and Building Council have put plans for a national park on the slopes of Mount Scopus on hold until the needs of the two adjacent East Jerusalem neighborhoods, al-Isawiyyah and at-Tur, are assessed. This follows a petition filed by the neighborhood residents with the assistance of NIF grantees Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights and Ir Amim. The residents’ main objection was that the plan would prevent the future growth of their neighborhoods.

In their decision, the National Planning Council stated: “With regard to the boundaries of the national park, the needs of the adjacent neighborhoods have not been sufficiently presented to us, including a clear examination of existing land reserves. This kind of examination is a necessary precondition prior to any decision regarding the boundaries of the park and it must be made on the basis of all the relevant considerations.”

In response to the decision, Bimkom’s East Jerusalem project leader, architect Sari Kronish, said: “This is a landmark step in the struggle for equality in land and planning for residents of East Jerusalem and we are hopeful that the Jerusalem District Committee will make appropriate changes to the plan.”


East Jerusalem is the site of some of the most bitter property-rights battles in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Supported by Israeli politicians and courts, radical right-wing settlers have through various means co-opted property in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods, including evicting Palestinians from their homes. Adjacent to the Old City, they have taken over homes and co-opted the public space in their effort to turn the area into what some refer to as a Jewish “Biblical theme park.” Their actions, as they have publicly stated, are designed to marginalize and displace Palestinian residents and prevent the possibility of a peace agreement involving a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.