JERUSALEM, May 18 (JMCC) - Palestinians say that Israeli officials have developed two new plans for the evacuation and demolition of homes in the East Jerusalem
neighborhood of Silwan
Lawyer Qais Yusef Nasser, settlement affairs expert, says that the plans are currently in front of Jerusalem city officials.
The goal of the first plan is to protect the Bustan area of Silwan - known as King's Garden to Israelis - as a green archeological area. The plan encompasses 53 dunams and 88 Palestinian homes that have been issued with demolition orders by Israeli authorities.
The goal of this plan is to renovate Bustan as a Jewish archeological and tourist place, says Nasser. For this purpose, the plan proposes the transfer of 22 homes from the east of the Palestinian neighborhood to the western part of Bustan.
The second plan, according to Nasser, is to legalize the demolition of buildings in the area that are more than five floors high. There are 20 buildings in the area that fit this description, says Nasser. The demolitions will be carried out by the city, but homeowners will be forced to pay the costs of destroying the buildings.
Silwan residents recently submitted their own development plans for the area to city officials, hoping to head off the planned demolitions. Nasser says that the two latest planning documents are intended to prevent implementation of the Silwan scheme.
Jerusalem Municipality plans that restore the area as a center for tourism and archeology
will succeed over any plan that keeps the status quo, says Nasser.
It is significant, says Nasser, that the new plans do not include the evacuation of a settlement
house called Beit Yonaton that has been ordered closed by the Israeli courts.
Silwan's Palestinian residents have fought a media and bureaucratic battle to prevent Israeli settlement in the crowded Palestinian neighborhood.
The Bustan neighborhood adjoins Jerusalem's Old City and both Jewish and Muslim holy sites, and is currently the focus of controversial Israeli excavations searching for evidence of early Jerusalem life.