Settlers marketing East Jerusalem homes for 22 Jewish families 27Sep09 September 29, 2009

by Nir Hasson  -  Haaretz  -  27 September 2009

Jewish children in Old city

An organization committed to populating East Jerusalem with Jewish residents has said that it has six properties in the Old City to sell to 22 Jewish families, which would bring the number of Jews living in the Arab quarters of the walled city to 1,000.

“The heart of Jerusalem is calling us,” reads a new brochure that the association Ateret Cohanim is circulating in an apparent effort to market the buildings. “Six registered assets are now up for sale, opening to us the possibility of adding 22 families to the Jewish community’s flourishing.”

The brochure also says that these 22 families would bring the number of Jews residing in the Old City (not including those in the Jewish Quarter) to 1,000. It continues: “At a time when the United Nations and countries around the world plot to forcibly take away Jerusalem and the holy places from Jewish hands, a steady and strong Jewish presence inside the Old City has become crucial to our ability as a nation to maintain and control this spiritual center.”

The brochure, a copy of which has been seen by Haaretz, concludes by telling readers: “You and Ateret Cohanim will make it happen.”

The document also specifies which Old City assets are earmarked to be populated by Jews, and provides details on plans for expansion of Jewish settlements elsewhere in East Jerusalem.

All the assets are listed with Hebrew names, such as Beit Sha’ar Haprachim (House of the Gate of the Flowers, referring to Herod’s Gate), Beit Hanes (House of the Miracle) and Beit Hakorban (House of the Offering). Prices are specified next to each asset, the number of families it can hold and other details.

The Ateret Cohanim association is one of the most active right-wing nonprofits in East Jerusalem, allotting considerable funds and effort to populating the heart of the Muslim Quarter with Jews, as well as placing Jews in houses in other Arab neighborhoods and villages in the East Jerusalem area.

Ateret Cohanim’s stated goal is to enter areas inhabited only by Arabs so as to prevent the city’s partition. The association’s most controversial project is Beit Yehonatan, a seven-story building constructed without permit in the village of Silwan. It was listed as condemned several years ago, but it is currently home to several Jewish families.

The brochure was found by Dr. Meir Margalit, a member of Jerusalem’s City Council from Meretz, in the course of his research into settlement efforts in the eastern part of the capital. The building, for example, bearing the Hebrew name of Herod’s Gate is described in the sales material as what will one day become a Jewish neighborhood in the Muslim Quarter, with 21 families, a synagogue, a kindergarten and a mikva (ritual bath). The house currently for sale is 400 square meters in floor space, and can house four families. Its cost, as stated in the brochure, is $1.7 million. Another asset, listed as Beit Boteach (The House of the Trusting Believer) is priced at $2.75 million, and can accommodate four families, whose members would live near the Lions Gate, also in the Muslim Quarter.

Margalit has scheduled a meeting with representatives of the European Union and from the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem to discuss the issue. Daniel Luria, director general of Ateret Cohanim, declined to comment on the plans specified in the brochure when contacted by Haaretz.


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