Newspaper Review: Dailies Report on Israeli Plan to Establish Park in Mount Scopus – WAFA

RAMALLAH, December 7, 2011 (WAFA) – The three Palestinian Arabic dailies reported on a new Israeli plan to establish a national park on land that belongs to Palestinians in Mount Scopus, in East Jerusalem.

Al-Quds front page story reported on the Jerusalem Distract Planning and Building Committee’s approval of the new plan to establish a 734-dunum national park on Mount Scopus, which aims to isolate al-Tur and Issawiya neighborhoods.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida featured the Israeli military court’s decision to expel Palestinian lawmaker Ahmad Attoun to the West Bank, thus upholding an order by the Israeli ministry of interior to withdraw Attoun’s right of residency in East Jerusalem.

It printed a photo of Attoun on Qalandia crossing on his way to Ramallah.

Al-Ayyam printed a photo of a Palestinian woman standing next to a pile of furniture from her house in al-Jib village, near Jerusalem, which Israeli authorities demolished under the pretext of having no building permits.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida featured President Mahmoud Abbas’ meeting with former Jordanian Prime Minister, Abdelsalam al-Majali, in which they discussed the latest developments in the peace process.

Al-Quds editorial discussed Hamas’ rejection of the International Quartet’s statement, which will only freeze the current situation in which Israel is determined to build more settlements in the West Bank.

It said, “Political flexibility is required from Hamas so as to surround Israel internationally and make it easier to achieve Palestinian demands.”


Report: Israel plans park to block Issawiya expansion – Maan

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — A left-wing member of Israel’s Jerusalem city council says a plan for a new “national park” in the Mt Scopus area is a “ruse” to block development of two Palestinian neighborhoods.

Meir Margalit of the Meretz party told Israel’s Haaretz daily that the park “is a farce. There’s nothing there but rocks and thorns, certainly nothing to justify a national park.”

He added: “The only reason for such a plan is to seize lands and hold them as a reserve for a future settlement, while suffocating the Palestinian neighborhoods.”

Efrat Cohen, an architect and activist with the rights group Bimkom, said the park is intended to stop the group’s plan to renovate areas in al-Tur and Issawiya, which are populated by Palestinians.

“These two neighborhoods are boxed-in from all sides, they have no other way for development”.

The report said authorities had meanwhile stopped plans for settlement in the the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, construction that had sparked criticism from the US.

‘Israeli park plans halt East Jerusalem development’ – Jordan Times

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli officials have halted the expansion of two crowded East Jerusalem neighbourhoods by planning a national park on the only land available for them to grow, Israeli NGO Bimkom said on Tuesday.

The group, also known as Planners for Planning Rights, accuses Israel’s National Parks Authority and the Jerusalem municipality of using the park plan to block the expansion of the nearby Arab neighbourhoods of Issawiya and A-Tur.

Efrat Cohen-Bar, an architect with Bimkom, which helps vulnerable communities on issues of planning and building, said the group had been working with the local community to build new homes and schools in the valley that runs between the two neighbourhoods.

The plan gained initial approval from a local committee, but the group then learned that the National Parks Authority wanted to claim 550 dunams of that land for a new park.

“In one of our meetings they told us that the plan was to block these two neighbourhoods, though they never mentioned that reason again,” Cohen-Bar said.

Most of the park will fall “deep, deep inside occupied territory”, she said, with the plans leaving no space for Issawiya to expand and almost none for A-Tur.

“The municipality declared that they are going to prepare another plan for Issawiya but I can tell you there is no land for that, they are going to basically just increase the density,” she said.

“The district engineer said we are going to plan Issawiya and he said that there is enough land to expand, but this is a lie, this is not true.”

Issawiya and A-Tur lie on the Arab eastern side of Jerusalem, in an area captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed in a move not recognised by the international community.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem its “eternal, undivided” capital, but the Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state and the international community regards Israeli construction in occupied territory as illegal.

Cohen-Bar said the park plan appeared to be a clear attempt to prevent the Arab neighbourhoods from expansion and mark land as Israeli.

“I consider those new national parks in East Jerusalem… like a settlement, it’s another way to make those lands Israeli,” Cohen-Bar said.

Jerusalem city council made no direct comment on the NGO’s allegations, and said it was pushing forward with plans to preserve the valley in its natural state in order to attract visitors.

In a statement sent to AFP, spokesman Stephan Miller said the area had high value in terms of landscape and archaeology and represented “the eastern gateway to Jerusalem”.

“The aim of the plan is to preserve the area in its natural state while restoring and reconstructing the view by dealing with the problematic aspects in order to prepare the land and give access to visitors,” he said.