Jerusalem Court Halts Jewish Construction in Silwan 14Sep09 September 18, 2009

The Alternative Information Center — 14 September 2009


The Jerusalem District Court has ruled in favor of the residents of the Wadi Hilwa-Silwan Neighborhood of East Jerusalem – who petitioned against massive Jewish construction works there; Construction halted was initiated by the Elad Association, promoted by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Transportation Ministry, and carried out by EJDC (East Jerusalem Development Company);
Justice Noam Solberg ordered most of the planned works canceled.

Yesterday (September 8), the Jerusalem Magistrate court accepted claims made by residents of the Wadi Hilwa—Silwan neighborhood, together with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Bimkom—Planners for Planning Rights, that most of the construction works in their neighborhood were illegally planned because no construction permits had been issued for them, as required by law.

The verdict elaborated on the neighborhood’s planning status, saying that there is no detailed blueprint for most of its territory. Such blueprints serve as the only legal basis on which construction permits can be issued. Justice Noam Solberg stated: “There is no logical reason to make shortcuts and facilitate permits, in violation of the legal requirements, precisely where the opposite had been explicitly established. Construction works in the neighborhood, therefore, must be based on permits as required by law.”

Accordingly, the court ordered the cancellation of planned works including construction of sidewalks, walls, and façade renovations. The court further banned works on the local electricity grid until all the legally required permits are furnished. At the same time, the court approved works for the improvement of the sewage, drainage, and communication infrastructures planned to benefit the existing residents of the neighborhood.

According to information in the possession of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the planned construction was designed to make the neighborhood suitable for tourists who visit the Ir David site at the expense of open spaces, green areas, and parking spots for actual residents of the neighborhood.

Architect Efrat Cohen-Bar, of Bimkom
: “It is a good thing that the court established that the Jerusalem Municipality and even the Elad Association must follow the law, including the Construction and Planning Act. We hope that this verdict is a first step toward minimizing the planning discrimination against the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.”

Attorney Tali Nir of ACRI
, who represents the residents: “The construction works in the neighborhood, at the total cost of some 30 million shekels, were planned in violation of the law and proper government rules. We welcome the court’s decision to end this scandal, in which the chief culprit is the Jerusalem Municipality which discriminates blatantly against Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem in planning and demolition throughout Jerusalem—imposing policies on them that it is not willing to uphold itself. The rejection of the plan clears the way for the authorities to do their duty and produce blueprint plans for the neighborhood so that its development can accurately reflect the needs of its residents: schools, public gardens, public toilets, and other civil services.”


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