The Jerusalem Municipality along with Israeli Ministry of Tourism are to jointly allocate 4 million NIS to fund the development of a new settlement project, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, south of al-Aqsa mosque.The project is an attempt to encourage tourism in the City of David National Park, and is being operated by the El Ad organisation whose objective is to settle Jewish Israelis in the area.

This project appears to form part of the concerted effort of the settler organisation El Ad to occupy areas within Silwan which then become unavailable to Palestinians, many of whom have lived there for many years. Furthermore El Ad is being financially supported in this activity by the Jerusalem Municipality.

The Financial Committee of the Jerusalem Municipality decided last week to transfer amounts of NIS 1.1 million and 900,000, while the Ministry of tourism will also transfer NIS 2 million (NIS 4 million equals approx. $1 million).

The report also said that the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Yosef ‘Pepe’ Alalu, who voted against the project stated, ‘The Municipality and the Ministry are transferring this money to the organization that aims to control the village of Silwan.’

‘Pepe’ Alalu also stated that the decision influences the cultural institutions in Jerusalem because NIS 3 million from the Municipality development budget will go to this project and this money will be unavailable for other projects.