The Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter, in the Old City of Jerusalem, invested more than 200 million shekels ($55,288,940) into â€śsettlement projectsâ€ť, in Jerusalemâ€™s Old City district.
Israel Hayom news outlet reported that the projects will include renovating the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, the Burnt House, and the Wohl Archaeological Museum.
The company is reportedly working to upgrade the Jewish Quarter, which is located in the Old City, and will cost more than 200 million shekels.
Palestinians and activists view this move as an Israeli attempt to Judaize Jerusalemâ€™s Old City through such â€śrenovationâ€ť projects. According to NGO Ir Amim, Israel is â€śintensifyingâ€ť its settlement activity in and around Jerusalemâ€™s Old City.
Earlier this week, according to Ma’an, Ir Amim published a new map, describing an â€śaccelerated, intensifying chain of new facts on the ground in the most historically contested and politically sensitive part of Jerusalem: the Old City and adjacent ring of Palestinian neighborhoods.â€ť
The NGO pointed to â€śa mounting number of state-sponsored settlement campaigns inside Palestinian neighborhoods,â€ť as well as â€śsettler-initiated evictions of Palestinians, takeovers of their homes, and the expansion of settler compounds,â€ť in addition the use of â€śtouristic settlement sitesâ€ť as â€śkey points along a ring of tightening Israeli control.â€ť
Ir Amim said that tourism and supposed archaeology projects â€śassume a central role in Israeli settlement policy.â€ť
The NGO group also stressed handing over the management of such projects to settlement organizations allows Israel â€śto exploit tourism as a tool for reinforcing settlement initiatives in the Old City and its environs, erasing the significant Palestinian presence there, promulgating the idea of the entire area as an Israeli environment, and imposing a nationalistic Israeli character that blurs the multi-religious and multi-cultural nature of the space, primarily to the detriment of the Muslim sites and presence.â€ť
â€śThis use of national parks and tourist sites serves the goal of transforming the Palestinian neighborhoods in and around the Old City, including Silwan, al-Tur, Ras al-Amud and Sheikh Jarrah, from a densely populated Palestinian area into one sprawling tourist site that bolsters Israeli control of the area and access to it.â€ť
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.