The Israeli “Regional Planning and Construction Council” approved, on Wednesday, the so-called “Kedem – City of David” colonialist project that would be undertaken at the main entrances of the Wadi Hilweh Palestinian neighborhood, in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center, in Silwan (Silwanic), said the approval came during a brief meeting held on Tuesday.
It added that Palestinians from Wadi Hilweh attended the session, but had to withdraw after being constantly interrupted whenever they testified about the devastating outcome of such a project occurring on their lands.
The residents also complained that they were denied the right to Arabic interpretation during the council meeting.
Lawyer Sami Ersheid said that the Regional Council denied, Tuesday, all appeals filed against the Kedem project, and canceled the 2014 decision of the “Appeals Committee” of the “Higher Planning Council,” to completely void the project.
Ersheid added that the decision of the Appeals Council was very brief, barely two pages, in which it voided the 140-page decision of the appeals committee, issued in June of 2014, and never provided any justification for the legal, planning and construction reasons that pushed it for approval in the first place.
“The hearing at the Regional Council meeting demanding discussing all appeals against the project in just four hours, this is not enough because each section of the project needs at least 15 minutes”, Ersheid said, “Such deliberations in the previous session lasted for two days, each day for eight hours.”
He added that Wadi Hilweh residents, Ir Amim and Emek Shaveh organizations, along with several Israeli academics, have all filed appeals against the 2014 decision of the Regional Committee approving the project in 2014, and that the entire colonialist project was voided by the Appeals Committee in 2015.
“The decision of the Regional Committee is merely political,” he stated, “it is not legal, it was pushed by pressures from the higher political leadership; the Regional Council was just talking about the touristic importance of this project, and completely ignoring the harm and suffering that would be inflicted on the Palestinians in Silwan. We will file appeals and demand voiding the Regional Council’s decision; we will demand approving the decision of the Appeals Committee.”
He also stated that Israel wants to build a six-story building on 12.000 square/meters, for the use of the Israeli archeology department, in addition to a conference hall, educations rooms, parking lots for tourists and settlements, commercial stores, and offices run by the Elad colonialist organization, largely funded by millionaires from the United States.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center and Committee issues a joint statement denouncing the approval of the colonialist project, originally submitted by Elad, and said that this approval just goes to serve the illegitimate plans in replacing the indigenous Palestinians with colonialist settlers, and colonialist projects.
They said that the approval of this project, originally voided nine months ago, “came in a racist session, that was merely for show,” and denied the residents the right to present their case, or to present the devastating outcome of this colonialist project.
They added that its approval will be the gateway for the addition of many more colonialist projects on Palestinian lands in Silwan, and demanded the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to immediately intervene, especially since this project aims at destroying Arab and Palestinian heritage and archeology, and demanded the International Community to act in helping the residents to counter this illegal project.
The “Kedem” project aims at the illegal annexation of large areas of lands in Wadi Hilweh — lands that, until Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 — were used for agriculture, before Israel illegally confiscated them, demolished a room owned by the Abda family, and turned the grounds into a parking lot.
In 2003, the Elad colonialist organization managed to gain control over the lands, and started planning before actually digging in al-Magharba Square, in addition to destroying Ottoman, Byzantine and Roman sites, and left just a few of them as an “archeological proof of the second temple.”