Car Park for Jewish Worshippers Planned on Palestinian Land in East Jerusalem: Municipality claims owners retain control

12:00 Aug 28 2011 Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Municipality has confiscated 4 dunams of privately owned Palestinian land in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, near the tomb of Shimon Hatsadik (Simeon the Righteous).

According to the Israeli online news source nrg, this is part of a plan initiated by the Jewish settlers in the neighbourhood, who wish to expand access to the tomb as a site of pilgrimage.

Initiators of the plan, including the site manager from Israel’s National Centre for the Development of Holy Areas, Nuri Hananiya, are planning to pave more accessible roads and to remove from the land shipping containers placed there by its owner, Kamel Avidat.

“The same person who claims the area as his…fenced it in, and the people who came… to pray couldn’t park their cars,” says Haninya, “This is our area, and it must remain as such.”

Kamel Avidat spoke with NRG, stating “This week they hung evacuation orders on the shipping containers. I told them that this is private property and if they want, I could establish a private car park and charge a fee, but they said this was public land. It is very clear that this will be a car park only for worshippers and settlers.”

The main power behind this land confiscation is Jerusalem Municipality Council Member Yaakov Halperin, who explained: “the move is not for the benefit of the tomb, but for the entire public”.

The Jerusalem Municipality has a different claim, contending that “the land remains with its owners and there is no confiscation, but temporary use of the area in coordination with its owners in order to solve parking problems in the area. Owners of the land are those who will operate the car park and (they) can even charge money for the parking. It is important to note that the landowners can stop the…parking at any time and build on (the land)”.
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