An Israeli plan to seize Christian lands in Jerusalem

It is scheduled to be presented to the local planning and building committee in the Jerusalem municipality of the occupation, a very dangerous plan to expand the so-called (national park) to include the lands of the eastern Christian monastery in Jabal Al-Tur. On initial approval on the 2nd of next month, when the hearing was scheduled to take place on April 10th / Nisam, the date was brought forward because it falls on Palm Sunday.

According to the Israeli municipality, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which is promoting the project to swallow a large area of ​​land for Eastern Christian churches, aims for an expansion designed to renovate long-neglected land and better preserve the historical landscape, and that it will not harm the property of the church integrated in the park. Nationalism, according to the project’s organizers, linked to the conception (Orthodox religious Judaism - the Holy Basin) and the biblical gardens.

According to their claim, progress in the expansion plan of the “National Park” is taking place amid increasing tension in the relations between the Israeli government and church leaders, who have asserted in more than one written and video message to the international community that their joint Christian-Muslim communities are threatened by extremist Israeli groups and settlers.

Rights groups confirmed that the expansion of the so-called “garden” scheme is part of a larger national strategy to “encircle” the Old City of Jerusalem by controlling the areas adjacent to East Jerusalem. holy).

According to the plan of the occupation municipality, Plan 674788-101 will see the expansion of the borders of (Jerusalem Walls National Park) to include a large part of the Mount of Olives, as well as additional parts of the Kidron Valley and Wadi Hinnom, and bypassing the entire perimeter of the Old City from the east, south and west.

The authorities supervising the expansion plan in the municipality, antiquities and the so-called Nature Authority say that a visiting US Democratic delegation from the House of Representatives was informed of the plan, and later members of the delegation expressed to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a meeting on Thursday their concerns about the project, but Bennett did not He appears familiar with the previously unreleased plan, but he has told US lawmakers that he is doing everything possible to reduce tensions in Jerusalem and prevent steps that could lead to new outbreaks of violence. according to their description.

On Friday, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theopolis III, Custos of the Holy Land of the Catholic Church Francesco Patton and Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Nourhan Manougian wrote a letter to Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, whose office oversees the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, urging her to act to ensure that the planned expansion is cancelled. for him.

“Although the plan has been formally submitted by the Nature and Parks Authority, it appears to have been put forward and is being coordinated, developed and promoted by entities whose sole apparent purpose is to expropriate, nationalize and transform one of Christianity’s holiest sites,” the church leaders wrote. A brutal direct and premeditated attack on Christians in the Holy Land, on churches and their ancient and internationally guaranteed rights in the Holy City, under the guise of protecting green spaces, the plan appears to serve an ideological agenda that denies the status and rights of Christians in Jerusalem.”

Church leaders also sent the letter to the consuls of France, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Spain, Britain, and Sweden in Jerusalem, in an attempt to garner international support for their opposition.

A spokeswoman for the Nature and Parks Authority said that while churches may not support the project, the authority hopes to reach out to all of them before discussing the plan at the planning committee next month for a dialogue.

Furthermore, she insisted that the project would not harm churches and was designed to preserve the historic terrain as national parks are supposed to do.

The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem issued a joint statement warning that Christian communities have become the target of “extremist groups” in Israel that aim to expel them from Jerusalem, pointing to the strategic acquisition of real estate in Christian areas, and calling on the Israeli government to act against Jewish national groups that threaten their existence.

It is reported that the Mount of Olives contains more than a dozen holy and historical Christian sites, including the Bridgtine Nuns Convent, the Church of Wery of Galilee, the Grotto of Gethsemane and the Garden of the Apostles.

A spokeswoman for the Nature and Biblical Gardens Authority in the occupation municipality claimed that the goal of the project is to reform the lands in the Hinnom Valley, which “has been neglected for years and suffers from vandalism and arson. )) is state land. This may be the case for the respective lands in the Hinnom Valley, but the lands of the Mount of Olives, which make up the majority of what the Nature and Parks Authority seeks to incorporate into the national park, are privately owned.

The Israeli municipality presented the plan, which was shared internally with municipal officials - a map that identifies which parts of the Mount of Olives lands are privately owned by Palestinian owners and which are owned by the Franciscan, Armenian or Greek Orthodox churches.

She revealed the link between the so-called (Nature and Parks Authority) and the so-called (City of David) institution, which is run by the extremist settler Elad Association.

As part of our activities, we run a joint project with the City of David Foundation where schools and youth work, among other things, to clean and restore terraces and plant trees. The results of these projects speak for themselves – neglected places have become beautiful corners that serve first and foremost the residents of the area.”

Human rights organizations said that the gradual seizure of homes and lands by Jewish families in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods, north and south of the Old City, and the expansion of the so-called “Jerusalem Walls National Park” to include the Mount of Olives, east of the Old City, the Elad Settlement Association will be able to encircle the Old City with settlement outposts. With Jewish housing, archaeological and environmental projects, which will ignite the region and plunge it into a religious war with ominous consequences.

In a joint statement, the organizations "Bimkom", "Emek Shaveh", "Ir Amim" and "Peace Now" said that "there is a direct link between what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah and the expansion plan, and we object to the cynical misuse of heritage and environmental protection as a tool by Israeli authorities to justify settlement expansion, to reshape the historical narrative and to determine the ownership of the Old City Basin.”

“The motives behind the scheme have nothing to do with maintenance, and the motives are entirely ulterior — the ideology of the biblical-motivated settler organizations alongside a government that willingly bids, and turns a blind eye,” said Danny Seidemann, an expert on Jerusalem affairs and founder of the left-wing organization Secular Jerusalem. easily or she just doesn't understand it."

The occupation authorities are pushing this project and supporting the occupation municipality in Jerusalem to implement projects on the properties of churches on the Mount of Olives, such as the cable car project, which is considered one of the settlement projects and that promotes the biblical narrative in the holiest Christian and Islamic places, as this flying train passes through the atmosphere of the Old City and south of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its description Many experts claim that he harms the sanctity and history of the holy city and turns it into a (Disneyland) and a game in the hands of a handful of Jewish extremists.

The Jerusalem municipality confirmed that it still supports the cable car plan, along with the (City of David) Foundation, which is the new name of the Elad Settlement Association, which is building and managing a tourist center in Silwan that will serve as the last stop on the cable car route, and is working to seize real estate, homes and lands in Silwan and inside the Old City .

jurists and land owners in that area believe that the cable car will rob them of a large part of their lands, and their homes will be exposed and infiltrated if this flying train is extended over it, and it will turn the most valuable historical scenery in Jerusalem into a recreational park, and the Palestinians see the project as an attempt by the Israeli occupation to confirm additional control and Judaization of occupied East Jerusalem.

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