THE MATRIX OF ISRAELI CONTROL IN EAST JERUSALEM INCLUDING THE MUSLIM AND CHRISTIAN QUARTERS
OF THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM
Dr. Meir Margalit
Meir Margalit, 2008
Do Not Reproduce
Table of Contents
Properties Under Israeli Control in East Jerusalem 7
The Players 9
Seized and Targeted Areas in East Jerusalem 9
Settler Activity Inside the Old City 9
A Summary of the Numbers 11
The Company for Rehabilitation and Development in the Jewish Quarter 11
Settler Activity Outside the Old City 13
Ir David - Silwan 13
Sheikh Jarrah 15
Abu Dis 20
Other Occupied Properties 21
Areas/Projects Targeted by Private Developers 21
Areas/Projects Targeted by Government 23
New Neighbourhoods 23
‘Green’ Settlements 24
East Jerusalem Development (EJD) Company 25
Sites at immediate risk 26
The Plan to Surround the Old City 27
Settler Ideology 29
Religeous Motivation 29
The Messianic Plan ????Settler Archaeological Activity 29
Settler Tunnelling in Silwan, and Beneath Al-Wad Street in the Old City 31
The Public Propaganda-“Good Relations with Arab Neighbours” 36
Taking Control of the Space 37
Methods for Seizing Property: Three Tracks 38
Properties acquired from the Greek Orthodox Church 38
Properties acquired from Palestinian families 39
Properties Acquired with Government Cooperation -The Klugman Report 40
Sources of Power and Authority 45
The Secret Government Committee 45
Secret Government Money 46
Government Channels 47
Open Channel 47
Private Covert Channels 48
The American and Other Connections 49
Illegal construction by Settlers in Silwan: Four Cases 50
Case 1: The 7-Story Building Built Without a Permit 50
Case 2: Justice Lahovsky Rescinds Demolition Order 51
Case 3: Containers, Caravans, and Guard Posts 52
Case 4: Using Muhammad Maraga to Buy Property for Settlers 53
Appendix A: Lists of properties and Areas in East Jerusalem Settled or under Threat 55
Shrinking East Jerusalem 56
Table 1: Settlements in East Jerusalem, 1968-1998 56
Table 2: Descriptions of Seized Property in the Old City 57
Table 3: Current Israeli Settlement Construction and Plans aimed at Judaization of East Jerusalem 61
One of the most vexing problems in determining the future of Jerusalem is the presence of a matrix of control that Israel has laid over East Jerusalem and the Muslim and Christian Quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City in particular. Since the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israeli governments have endeavoured steadily and unceasingly to alter the Arab character of East Jerusalem by fostering a critical Jewish mass – territorial as well as demographic – that creates a new geopolitical reality dominated by Israel. That process, called explicitly by Israel "Judaization”, is aimed at assuming control of the East Jerusalem by "de-Arabizing" it at the expense of its Palestinian population and Arab heritage.
The process of changing the physiology of East Jerusalem is based on the principle of the cumulative effect in which neutral elements, without significance if looking at each separately, create a different dimension when viewed together and each contribute to the alternative design of the ‘space’. The strength of these elements is that they are hidden from the political eye, and are innocent from a political perspective and therefore do not raise objections. Because of their perception as ‘natural’ or ‘neutral’ elements their influence on the physical space is even greater. Seen as a whole, however, in both its physical and demographic aspects, they contribute to the matrix, - a conscious, systematic and sinister policy of de-Arabization.
In this report, we were unsure of whether to include elements that served the Palestinian population as well as the Jewish citizenry. These are institutions that are intended to serve the Palestinian population, but they first and foremost serve the Israeli interest: for example, the Ministry of Interior in East Jerusalem. The Health Centre, on the other hand, which is also intended for the service of the Palestinian community, is difficult to define as a political measure. It is clear to us, however, that the psychological effect that there is to each of these seemingly ‘neutral’ institutions but are recognized as Israeli, contribute to the changed of character of the city. A gas company that runs under an Israeli logo, is without intention, an integral element of the Israeli control narrative of the East of the city. The logo of Kupat Cholim, the gas station, the Post Office and even the Israeli cellular companies are part of the same pattern. Not one of them is in fact ‘innocent’ of political significance. For each logo, symbol and Hebrew concept there is a function for the overall ‘Judaization’ of Jerusalem.
Successive Israeli governments have employed two mutually reinforcing means to constantly expand and solidify the matrix. The official organs of the state – the Jerusalem municipality, the Ministry of the Interior, the court system, the police and others – work hand-in-hand with such non-official bodies as settler associations that perform functions that the state is unable and unwilling to do, either for legal reasons or because it is “unseeming.” The settlers’ associations constitute the long arm of the government; and in return they flourish and are funded with governmental backing and sponsorship, afforded the cooperation of every legal government authority from the municipality to the police. A symbiotic relationship has formed between them to the extent that it is often unclear who is running what – the state the settlers or the settlers the state.
This research focuses on actions by settlers – whom government agencies support both overtly and covertly– in the very heart of East Jerusalem’s Arab population. It deals with properties taken over in the midst of densely populated Arab sections of East Jerusalem. The settlers’ endeavours are shrouded in secrecy, but despite their track-covering efforts we have collected enough material to present a reliable and comprehensive picture of their activities.
In the wake of the Oslo Accords and subsequent peace processes, the settlement project in East Jerusalem and particularly in the Old City took on greater impetus and urgency, spurred by settlers’ fears that Jerusalem could be divided as part of an overall peace agreement. The Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality proceed on the assumption that the international community will eventually enforce a diplomatic arrangement featuring some sort of division. It is also assumed that when that time comes, the deployment of settlements will determine to a large extent the city’s boundaries, just as in 1948 Jewish settlements determined Israel’s overall borders. As a result, both the state and the municipality are making tremendous efforts to create ‘facts on the ground’ that rule out any future division of the city. The settlers’ strategy is therefore clear: to create a situation in which future diplomatic agreements to divide Jerusalem will be impossible. The website of Ateret Cohanim states this openly: “Determination and collaboration with the authorities have proven the old method of Zionism – it is Jewish settlement that determines the borders of the state!”
The settler project is a well thought-out and dangerous attempt pursued by right-wing Israelis to thwart future peace-plans. Quietly and furtively, Israeli governments are using the settlers to seal any opening through which a peace agreement can be achieved. It is not certain that the settlements will succeed in fundamentally altering East Jerusalem’s character in the long term, but it is certain that they are intended to do so. These settlements are a recipe for disaster, a time-bomb which, if not defused in time, have a high probability of causing an appalling explosion.
This research seeks to shine a light on the activities of the settlers, and the covert mechanisms that are used to support their efforts. The information is the result of compiling two areas of data – information that has already been exposed by the media, (some of which is now known to be incorrect), and the second, is the research performed by actually visiting each location documented in this paper. It is our opinion that this is therefore the first comprehensive collection and documentation of the many parts of the subject
Note that this research does not take into account the existing large settlements in East Jerusalem – in Israel these are now being referred to as “neighbourhoods”. These are documented in Appendix A. Rather, this research concentrates on Israeli purchases in the dense Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, including the Old City.
The information provided in this research is accurate as of May 2008. Updates will be provided on a periodic basis, as new information becomes available.
Properties Under Israeli Control in East Jerusalem
It is difficult to determine the number and amount of Israeli properties in East Jerusalem. Most organizations involved in these acquisitions prefer to keep these figures under wraps. In order to reconcile the figures we have managed to collect, we have arrived at five sources that can be referenced to obtain data on the number of properties in East Jerusalem that are under the control of either Israeli Government or quasi government control. The sources and the data they have provided concerning property under their control are:
Custodian of Jewish Property in East Jerusalem, a department of the Ministry of Justice This ministry department administers property that was owned by Jews or Jewish organizations, that have existed under the British Mandate and the owners cannot be located. ????
Most of this information was transferred to Israel by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Properties, in 1967. (The Jordanians in turn received this from the British Mandate in 1948.)
The information that this department was willing to disclose was only that they manage 532 “files”. The Custodian is not willing to disclose how much land is involved in these 532 files.
Custodian of Absentee’s Property, a department of the Ministry of Finance. This department administers properties owned by Palestinians residing outside the Jerusalem borders. This department refused to disclose any data. In November 2007, Aryeh King, head of the Israel Lands Administration, petitioned the Supreme Court to disclose these figures. The Supreme Court ruled that public disclosure would damage Israel’s reputation and foreign relations.
Keren Kayemet L’Yisral, (Jewish National Fund-JNF) administer lands purchased for Jewish settlement. They also chose not to disclose data, though they did acknowledge that they own land in both Neve Yaacov and Atarot. Aryeh King provided us with the figure of 1200 dunams owned by the Keren Kayemet.
Israel Lands Authority (Minhal Mekarke’ey Yisrael) administers state land. This includes land that might have been previously owned by Jordan when under Jordanian rule. Under these rules, it should also administer the land that is under the JNF jurisdiction, but control of these properties have effectively been separated.
Settler Organizations own property in East Jerusalem and in particular in the Old City and surrounding perimeter. This document provides researched detail of the properties owned by the settler organizations. However, one area of settler numbers, - properties where Palestinians who are “squatting” in a purchased property at the behest of the Jewish owner, is difficult to estimate. Such a situation can be recognized as follows:
When a building is occupied by a new resident, often not from the neighbourhood, e.g. a single man or a family in economic straits that seems unable to buy or even rent a reasonably sized home, this “new neighbour” is likely to be a resident working for the settlers. In this manner, the settlers manage to avoid implicating the seller’s family with suspicions that they sold the house to Jews. The new resident continues living in the building until the settlers decide the time is ripe to seize the building themselves. Until then, the temporary residents live rent-free, and in many cases actually move from one apartment to another.
Adding up the numbers provided in the two tables, -for the Old City and for East Jerusalem – the total number of settlers occupying properties is: ________????
Several settler associations operate in East Jerusalem: the most notable are Elad, Ateret Cohanim, Atara L’Yoshna, Beit Orot, Meyashvei Zion, and Shimon Ha’Tzadik. Another group, Israel Land Fund, purchases properties in East Jerusalem, and hands over the properties for settlers to occupy.
Pivotal figures in those associations are Matti Dan, Benny Elon, Avi Maoz, David Beeri, Meir Davidson, Rabbi Elhanan Bin-Nun, Aryeh King, and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. All of them collaborate in a framework known as the Jerusalem Forum, which links up all organisations working to Judaize East Jerusalem, including the Messianic groups hoping to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount.
Seized and Targeted Areas in East Jerusalem
The following section provides details of those properties already under the control of the above associations, and those properties that are known to be targeted, under immediate threat or in the near future.
The research is documented here in several categories. These are:
• Properties seized for ideological objectives.
• Properties seized for private financial objectives.
• Properties seized by government initiative.
• National Parks and “Green” areas.
Settler Activity Inside the Old City
Jewish properties within the Old City can be divided into four principal groups:
• houses and apartment buildings
• yeshivas (religious academies) and synagogues
• government offices, including police stations
• “others”, that includes shops and archaeological sites
We included institutions that are not ideological or politically oriented, for example some orthodox yeshivas, since, though having no interest in supporting the settlers’ enterprise, they nevertheless function as part of a large scheme. This “Matrix of Control” is demonstrated by the fact that the settlers themselves include these institutions on their maps and brochures. It is interesting to note that the Palestinians differentiate between the two groups. The settlers are known as mustawteneen, while the ultra-orthodox Ashkenazim are called busbusim.
When speaking of “Control” it is important to mention the significance of the closed circuit cameras that are spread throughout the city for surveillance, creating a depressing psychological effect on the Arab population. These cameras offer a more profound level of penetration and represent a symbol of the military occupation. This is the local version of Orwell’s Big Brother and is an effective form of dominating the space with minimal physical presence.
The organization spearheading the process of Judaizing the Old City is Ateret Cohanim, headed by Mati Dan, a settler with extensive contacts in all government offices, including that of the Prime Minister. In the Muslim and Christian Quarters it controls 20 buildings where 60 families, comprising approximately 300 people, reside. Most of the buildings are grouped along El Wad Street; the most famous of them is the home of Ariel Sharon. Ateret Cohanim has gained possession of St. John’s Hostel, a large building close to the Holy Sepulchre. (A legal dispute is still pending over the hostel).
More recently it is attempting to purchase, through dubious methods involving disreputable agents within the Greek Orthodox Church, two prominent hotels near the Jaffa Gate: the Imperial and the Petra hotels. Legal proceedings continue over this transaction. A residential complex is also planned near Herod's Gate, at Burj Al Laqlaq, at the entrance to the Muslim Quarter, in an area renamed Ma’aleh Ha'Hasidot. This property belongs to the state, which will build the complex, which will then allow it to be lived in by Ateret Cohanim settlers. This is an example of government-settler cooperation. Plans are also in the works for 33 apartments to be erected close to the city wall, together with a synagogue that will soar seven meters over the Old City wall.
Other property types penetrating the Arab neighbourhoods are
• Six yeshivot, and all types of religious academies, many of which are residential, that serve the purpose of staking out a presence in every Arab neighbourhood in the Old City. The most notable are the yeshivas of Ateret Yerushalayim, Shuvu Banim, Aderet Eliyahu, Ateret Cohanim, Torat Haim, and Hazon Yehezkel.
• Government buildings, including police stations, the Citadel Museum, Municipal Pedagogic Centre, the tourist office, and Post Office.
• Archaeological digs in El Wad Street, the tunnels in the Western Wall, and Zidkiyahu Cave
• Settler-owned shops, (e.g. in El Wad and Silsilieh Streets) a restaurant on El Wad St.,and a wedding-hall on El Qirmi St.
A Summary of the Numbers
The total number of Israeli houses, government buildings and religious institutions scattered throughout the Christian and Muslim quarters is close to 40, and there are plans to add a further 33 housing units near Herod’s Gate. Aside from these 40 buildings there are also 10 “others” that include shops and archaeological digs that are under Israeli control. These buildings include several compounds, which consist of more than one house, as many as 6 in a building just off Suq el Qatanin (number 10 in table 2, Appendix A), but our research counts these compounds as single buildings. According to the register of the Ministry of Interior, the total number of Jews registered as inhabitants of the Christian and Moslem Quarters is 600.
The Company for Rehabilitation and Development in the Jewish Quarter
Not only settler organizations are active in implementing this plan.
Leading the process in the Muslim quarter is the Company for Rehabilitation and Development of the Jewish Quarter – a subsidiary company of the municipality and of the government. In 2001 it published a grandiose plan to build hundreds of homes in the Jewish Quarter and on Mount Zion in a combined area of 225,000 square metres, as well as several tourism projects - near Mount Zion, in Silwan, the Flower Gate and the Dung Gate - at a cost of 36.4 million dollars . In the brochure’s introduction, the objective of the project is defined as “bringing back a strong Jewish presence to the Old City”. The trend is to create continuity between the Old City and the rest of the city by augmenting the Old City with hundreds of housing units for Jews and thus ‘improving’ the demographic balance in the Old City. A tunnel will be excavated so that the rest of the city will be linked with the Western Wall, and a residential and business centre will be built on a seven-dunam plot. The present car-park of the quarter will be replaced by an underground car-park for 600 cars. A promenade will be built over the roofs of the market, connecting the Jewish Quarter with the other islands of Jewish presence scattered throughout the Muslim and Christian quarters. Public buildings are planned for construction on Mount Zion, enabling the evacuation of offices and institutions now located in the Jewish quarter; thereafter they can be rezoned as residential areas.
Table 2, Appendix A, provides detail on the approximately fifty properties seized in the Old City, categorized by ownership and type of property.
Settler Activity Outside the Old City
The process of changing the face of East Jerusalem has many distinct elements, some of which are symbolic. “Creating a ‘place’ is a qualitative, symbolic and emotional process”. An identifiably Israeli place can greatly enhance the basis for ownership of land. The street signs, the structure of the bus stations, the street lights and even the style of stone on the buildings - added to the massive construction of the settlement blocs, these are part of the cumulative effect of Occupation and of changing the physiognomy and identity of the city.
Reshaping the urban landscape with an Israeli character was used as a means of nationalizing the territory - a means to Israelise Jerusalem and to deprive other people of the symbolic ownership of their community heritage.
Ir David - Silwan
The village of Silwan stands on the front line of the Israeli offensive to erase the Arab presence in the east of the city. Because of the city;s historical importance, and because of its proximity to the Temple Mount (Haram Al Sharif), Silwan has become the object of desire of right-wing elements who have set themselves the goal of redeeming the lands on which King David established his kingdom.
Since the 1970s the State has been sparing no efforts to gain control of the land and building aby any means possible through the Elad association, such that in the name of the State the latter enters into dubious deals that the State cannot enter into officially.
Elad was founded in 1986, and entered the first two homes in the Ir David area in 1991 . The person heading this organization is David Be’eri. Today there are ten buildings in Ir David, inhabited by 27 families. The association owns another twenty buildings; most of which were seized in February to April 2004, and 23 families now live there. Currently, Elad has submitted a plan to the municipality to construct a compound to include ten apartments, a kindergarten, a synagogue, a library, and parking for 100 cars. In all, the number of settler families residing in Silwan is approximately 50, comprising close to 300 persons.
Elad’s official publications reflect pride in having seized more than 55% of the area of ‘Ir David’. We believe that many more buildings are still inhabited by Arab citizens, and that the association is waiting for the most suitable moment - in political terms - to take possession of them. A seven-storey building in the Silwan area is under the control of Ateret Cohanim, despite the fact that Silwan is considered Elad’s territory.
Silwan is a clear example of the manipulation described above in the introduction to this section “Settler Activity Outside the Old City”: Not only the lights and such reflect the face of Israel, but the north-south promenade is made with the same type of stone used in West Jerusalem. This gives the appearance that the Palestinian residents are Arabs living in Israel, not that a Jewish community has been transplanted into Palestinian East Jerusalem.
In addition to the properties seized by the settlers, the settlers also control archaeological compounds, as well as the National Park of Ir David. This is the only situation where the government archaeological authority has transferred control to a settler association, -i.e. to Elad. Respected archaeological societies have expressed concern that the settlers’ retrieve only those artefacts that support their case, while destroying or omitting artefacts indicating a history of an ancient Muslim or Christian presence. Though the Israel Antiquities Authority have in theory given Elad the right to these digs, in actual fact there is little influence or supervision by the Antiquities Authority, as there would be in other Israeli archaeological digs.
Further detail on the tunnels being excavated by Elad, in the Old City and in Silwan, is provided in the following section.
The neighbourhood of Sheik Jarrah is in a very sensitive area with strategic significance. It borders the Old City from the north and is adjacent to the commercial area of East Jerusalem. It consists of an old and well established community and it houses several national institutions, including Orient House, the American Colony Hotel and the Palestinian National Theatre. It is a link between the West part of the city, and Mt. Scopus and Ramat Eshkol from the north and thereby creates significant territorial contiguity of the Jewish portion of the city.
The process of taking control is systematic. The central axis is a good case-study of the phases of changing the profile of an area.
In fact, in this area are two actual ideologically based settlements, easily recognized – Shimon HaTzadik and Shepherds Hotel. However, we must not ignore the “grey areas” that indicate a strong Israeli presence, even though formally not settlements. These are described below. Together with the settlements they create a contiguous Israeli presence the entire length of the road.
At the beginning of the axis is a block of three new hotels officially opened in 2000. Though they are owned by international companies, the management is in Israeli hands and the tourists and guests are predominantly Jewish. Hotels are apolitical by nature but since these attract Jewish guests, they become, without prior intent, into an instrument of creating Jewish homogeneity in the city.
Opposite the three hotels is a medical centre belonging to the Israeli ‘Kupat Cholim’ and that had previously been used as a branch for the ‘Histadrut’ – the Israeli Trade Union. A nearby gas station belongs to the Israeli ‘Sonol’ gas company. As mentioned earlier, though a gas station is apolitical, the presence of an Israeli logo in an Arab neighbourhood creates the impression of being in an Israeli area.
Further up the road is a memorial for Israeli soldiers who fell in the six-day war of 1967. This is a strong symbolic and provocative measure that rubs salt on a wound.
Continuing up the road is the settlement of Shimon Ha Tsadik. The Jewish presence here is very dominant, not only because of the flags but also because of the armed security guards and the jeeps of the border-police that are constantly cruising the area.
Next to the settlement is the holy grave for the Jews, the cave of Shimon Ha Tsadik, which attracts many Jews every day and particularly during the holidays. This cave is incorporated in the plans of the settlers because it ensures the constant presence of Jews and a stronger presence of security forces. Adjacent is another cave which was enshrined in 2001 as a holy place for Jews, named the Cave of the Rambam.
The land that surrounds the area of the settlement and the caves is under serious threat of being overtaken by settlers, who claim it was transferred to them by Jewish NGOs that purchased the property in the 20’s. This ownership was contested in court which ruled that since the exact location of the property was difficult to ascertain, the settlers therefore failed to prove ownership. Nevertheless, the settlers presented a building plan for a very large compound –approximately two hundred housing units- to the municipality. This plan will also be appealed by the residents of the area.
Further up, there is another memorial commemorating the medical convoy that was attacked on its way to the Hadassah Hospital in 1948. This memorial is another symbolically heavy indication that projects a subtle message that Arabs even kill Doctors.
A large building not far along the road, known as the Shepherds Hotel, was sold through the Custodian of Absentee Property to the patron of the settlers, Erwin Moskovitz, for the establishment of a new settlement. The master plan for this settlement was presented in 2005 to the Jerusalem municipality and shows a plan for approximately 70 housing units. The area of ancient olive trees across the street, known as the Kerem el Mufti , was also handed over to the settlers but they are not yet permitted to build in this area, as it is defined as a ‘green area’.
Offices of the Ministry of Interior were opened in mid 2006 next to this hotel. These offices are adjacent to the Hebrew University campus of Mt. Scopus.
The government offices and the police headquarters that are linked to the Western portion of the city are located at the end of the road; thus the territorial contiguity between West and Arab North is completed.
In the Sheikh Jarrakh area, the Meyashvei Zion (Colonists of Zion) association has established a strong presence in what is known as the Shimon Ha’Tzadik neighbourhood; it has taken over seven buildings that provide homes for around 40 people, as well as a yeshiva where another 50 young people study. The leaders of this organization are Chaim Berkovitch and Tzahi Mamo. Across the road are four or five buildings to which the association claims ownership – they are also the subject of legal proceedings. The association claims ownership of seventeen dunams in the area, purchased by an American company named Nahlat Shimon International: the relevant plans call for building a complex of 160 housing units. . In January 2008 a plan was submitted to Jerusalem municipality for constructing 200 residential units on an 18-dunam plot bordering on the present settlement. Filed in the name of the Shimon Ha'Tzadik Company, the plan calls for the construction of multi-storey buildings and the demolition of 40 buildings that house Palestinian residents. Note that in 2006 the Supreme Court ruled that neither of the two entities claiming ownership – the Shimon Ha'Tzadik Company, and Suleiman Darwish Higazi – have managed to prove ownership of the land. The significance of that ruling is that no proof exists that the land is owned by the settlers, and that they are not entitled to build on the site until the matter is conclusively settled. Nevertheless, the settlers have submitted construction plans, on the assumption that they can create solid facts that will later be hard to dislodge.
The Shepher Hotel area: In November 2005 a construction file was opened regarding the Shepher Hotel which is located in Sheikh Jarrakh, on the road that lead up to Mount Scopus. Again, Irwin Moskowitz is the developer, and the tracks lead to Ateret Cohanim. The plans address the construction of close to 90 housing units; Close to that location is a green area comprising sixteen dunams, also acquired by Moskowitz. No request for a building permit regarding this area has yet been submitted, possibly out of concerns that an application to amend the Urban Building Plan calling for the destruction of a green area with ancient olive trees would set off an outcry among green organizations. This development is one of the links in the chain that connects the Shimon Ha’Tzadik neighbourhoods to the government complex in Sheikh Jarrah.
Since March 2006 the Elad organization took control of a compound the Mount of Olives (A-Tur), that included two four-story apartment buildings. These are not far from the Seven Arches Hotel, overlooking the Temple Mount. With this they have established the first settlement atop the Mount of Olives, next to the Jewish cemetery.
These buildings belonged to the Abu al-Hawa family.The property passed though three Palestinian purchasers before it was finally sold to a Jordanian company, Luil Investment, which is, in fact, a company owned by the settlers. Mohamed Abu al-Hawa, was killed one week after the settlers took control, most probably by Palestinians as he was seen to be a collaborator.
The Beit Orot yeshiva is also a settlement for all intents and purposes, because of its members’ ideological profile. It was founded by Hanan Porat and Rabbi Benny Elon in the early 1990s, and 100 yeshiva students are housed there. When Benny Elon was Minister of Tourism, he made a point of transforming the area near the yeshiva into a national park, known as Ein Tzurim. The municipality has recently approved building plan no. 4904/A which relates to public buildings and housing units on an overall area of 10 dunams. The plans were submitted by Irwin Moskowitz.
In Ras-al-Amud there is a large complex known as Ma’aleh Hazeitim, extending over 15 dunams, with 132 apartments, 51 of which have been built to date. The plans were approved in 1998, and the project was financed by Irwin Moskowitz. Aryeh King, Moskowitz’s personal representative in Israel, is a prominent figure in this venture. The complex is in the throes of a surge of expansion.
An adjacent building, which houses the Israel Police headquarters of the Judea & Samaria division, was recently purchased. Once the settlers obtain possession of the building, it will expand the boundaries of Ma’aleh Hazeitim significantly.
On the outskirts of Abu Dis is a thirty-dunam plot, where the Kidmat Zion complex, consisting of 340 housing units, will be built. Moskowitz financed this project as well. Although the plans were approved in 2002 and passed all the statutory committees, construction is on hold due to American pressure -it is near the site of the Palestinian parliament building which will be built in Abu Dis. Nevertheless, it is not impossible that the plans will ultimately be implemented. The settlers have seized possession of two buildings – one which they purchased, and another that they have built from anew. Both are intended to stress their presence and safeguard the land from ‘invaders’.
Other Occupied Properties
There are also several isolated buildings dispersed throughout East Jerusalem, including buildings in Abu Tor, Jabel Mukaber, opposite the U.S. Consulate, on Musrara Street (what the settlers call the neighbourhood of Nissan Beck), near the walls of the Old City, and so on, where a few families live and offices operate; we believe that there are approximately ten housing units. We are aware of other properties throughout the eastern half of the city, for example in the Shuafat-Beit Hanina area, intended for use as bargaining chips in exchange deals with people living in areas that interest the settlers, such as Silwan and the Old City. The settlers’ assumption is that Arabs living in highly congested areas where building permits will not be granted will gladly exchange their homes for more spacious ones in areas where building permits can be easily obtained.
Areas/Projects Targeted by Private Developers
As well as the ideological settlements, there are several building projects initiated by business entities unconnected with the settlers. Eventually, however, we anticipate that settlers could enter them in a massive way. The largest is the Nof Zion complex, owned by Jacques Nasser and Abie Levy, bordering on Jabel Mukaber. It extends over 115 dunams and will eventually contain 350 housing units, a 150-room hotel, and service buildings.
Another area matching this category is in Shuafat. It is a twelve dunam plot, owned by millionaire Ezra Bellilios. Plans deposited with the local planning and building committee show that he intends to construct five buildings of four or five storeys each, and a commercial centre.???אולי להכניס את העסקים של עו"ד אסף בוטח.
There is a plan for a five-storey building at the entrance to Silwan, on what is known as the Givati Parking Lot, on an 11.5 dunam plot. Among the planned facilities are a banquet hall, a commercial centre with a view towards the Western Wall plaza, and an underground car-park. In June 2005, the plan was approved by the local planning and construction committee. The developer is the Ma’aleh Beit David company. At this stage we do not yet know for sure who the instigators are, but persistent rumours maintain they are members of Elad.
Areas/Projects Targeted by Government
Several complexes are planned for construction in East Jerusalem at the government’s initiative, generally that of the Housing Ministry.
A new neighbourhood comprising 1.500 homes in an area covering 2.200 dunams will soon be built in the Givat HaMatos area, currently a caravan site housing new immigrants. Although the site has been occupied for over a decade by new immigrants and disadvantaged families, it is presented as a completely new project, part of which lies on land belonging to Beit Safafa. ???באזור בונה גם ב.יאיר מתחם גדול.
A vast development which is partly a Jerusalem neighbourhood and partly a settlement named Givat Yael, is planned for construction near the village of Wallajeh – half of which is under the jurisdiction of Jerusalem, while the other half is in Judea and Samaria. Givat Yael will be the largest settlement in the Jerusalem area, with 3,500 homes. Plans for 2000 dunams have been presented to the Ministry of Interior and another 1000 dunams are in reserve. It is destined to be the link connecting Jerusalem with Gush Etzion.
Near the Mar Elias monastery on the Bethlehem Road, the Housing Ministry is planning the Har Homa C complex, which will connect Har Homa with Gilo, while Har Homa D will be built on land close to Khirbet Mizmoriya-Nuaman. Together with the Housing Ministry, the Jerusalem Municipality is drawing up a plan to augment the Jewish presence in the city’s south-eastern part, with the objective of creating a Jewish buffer that can prevent contiguity between Beit Sakhur, Sur Bakher and the Palestinian neighbourhoods to the south of the city.
A complex that cuts through all these categories is planned for consruction near the Herod's Gate, at Burj Al Laqlaq, or what the settlers call Ma’ale Hahasidot. Although a government initiative, it is designed for the settlers of Ateret Cohanim. Plans show that 33 buildings will be erected close to the Western Wall, together with a synagogue that will soar seven meters over the Old City wall.
Another method for increasing Jewish presence in East Jerusalem, in sites where residential construction is not an option, is by transforming extensive swathes of land into ‘green’ and tourism areas with a strong Jewish flavour. Transforming open space into parks is initially aimed at preventing an Arab presence or, as the state calls it, the Arab takeover of the land. Knesset member Benny Allon, among the founders of the Shimon Ha'Tzadik settlement, and a head of the Beit Orot Yeshiva, has stated openly that the goal of the settlers in East Jerusalem is to create Jewish contiguity encompassing the area of the Old City. It is to be achieved by declaring open land as 'national parks' and adding state land to land owned by Jews. "Jewish neighbourhoods that are built adjacent to the open land will prevent the influx and illegal construction by Palestinians".
In the ensuing stage it is likely that Jewish institutions and housing for Jewish residents will be built there. But even if no institutions or homes are being constructed, public parks are enough to reinforce the Jewish hold over the site. The signposts, guards and paths create continuity between Jewish sites, and the architectural style contributes to an extensive network of Jewish sites with political significance and weight. This is another aspect of the pattern for seizing control of physical space and demonstrating presence there. For the past two years, the public parks authority in the Jerusalem District has been managed by Evyatar Cohen, who lives in the settlement of Ofra, and is a former employee of Elad. One only has to track the explanations given by state sources to realise that their discourse is the same as that of the settlers’, and their goals are the same goals. The area of land known as Tzurim Park in the A-Swanna neighbourhood is arguably the defining example of that trend. Declared a national park by the Parks Authority, the land has been fenced off by the municipality in a manner preventing the Arab owners of the land from building there. Through that declaration, the state accomplishes two goals simultaneously; it prevents Arabs from building on the land, and it also gains control of the land without expropriating it and therefore without compensating its owners. Similarly, another national park has recently been declared, under Mt. Scopus in Issawiya, covering an area of 745 dunams; this park has been declared on the pretext that it overlooks a desert area which has great value as a region of disappearing natural beauty. What is most ridiculous and infuriating is that this park overlooks the E-1 area, which is the subject of highly controversial development plans by the Municipality of Ma'ale Adumim and the Israeli Government.
East Jerusalem Development (EJD) Company
Another project that uses natural and scenic values to bolster Jewish presence in the East Jerusalem has been handed over for implementation by the East Jerusalem Development Company (EJD) - another of the municipality’s subsidiaries. The project entails laying out a national park composed of fifteen separate areas, located from Abu Tor via the King’s Valley (Silwan), the Sultan’s Pool, the Lions Gate, Mount Zion, and up to the foothills of Mount of Olives, all connected by a network of paths: its cost is 75 million shekels. A brochure outlining the project demonstrates the merging of tourism with the political considerations underlying this extravagant project. It states that, due to the deteriorating situation of tourism infrastructure as a result of wide-scale illegal construction and squatters, rapid action is necessary to preserve the area’s status as a tourist attraction. The government has defined the project as a ‘national mission’: Sclearly when it invokes this phrase it means more than planting trees and placing park benches - something far more political and ambitious. When interviewed by a local newspaper, the spokesperson of EJD used the phrase “the battle for Jerusalem”, which has the covert goal of preventing construction by Arabs in the most sensitive areas in Jerusalem. These projects should therefore be considered as constituting further tools for the takeover of the city, and as an integral part of the overall settler project.
Sites at immediate risk
Five East Jerusalem sites are considered as being at high risk:
(1) The el-Bustan area in the village of Silwan, where the municipality has ordered the destruction of 88 buildings in order to build an archaeological park. International pressure has caused the project to be suspended, but the danger has not passed and the government is apparently waiting for the right time to implement their plan.
(2) The Tel-el-Ful area, where the Israel Lands Administration claims ownership of 200 dunams of land and is pressuring for the evacuation and destruction of the existing buildings.
(3) The Yemenite neighbourhood in the centre of Silwan,, where Elad members are planning a large Jewish complex.
(4) In the area of Sheikh Jarrah, around the Shimon Ha'Tzadik settlement, there is an ongoing court case for the future of 17 dunams that involves the old Sephardi community. This land was purchased in the 1920s, and the settlers have now asked the court to evict the residents of twenty houses in this area, in which thirty families live, and to return it to the Sephardi community which has given permission to the settlers to act on their behalf.
(5) A small hill of 7 dunams in the Anata area, to which the settlers attach great importance, since it dominates the road leading to Maale Adumim, and which they succeeded in proving was bought by a Jew living in Europe.
The Plan to Surround the Old City
The spatial spread is not random, and complies with a crystallised strategic programme with both religious and political implications. Examining the map of Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem reveals that the settlers’ plan is to create a strip of Jewish localities around the Old City, which will fulfil two roles: first, territorial contiguity between the north and south of the city will be severed, and second, the Old City will be enveloped by Jewish ‘islands’ that will rule out any possibility that Jerusalem can function as the capital of a future Palestinian state. This is clearly seen when one locates those Jewish islands on the map: from the south, there is a broad belt that starts in the City of David complex, continues towards Ras-el-Amud and Kidmat Zion, from where it can be continued towards the disputed E-1 area and Ma’aleh Adumim.
Once the ploy is recognised, we can distinguish what lies behind the municipality’s plan to destroy 88 homes in the el-Bustan area of Silwan, which is an important link in the plan to complete a Jewish strip around the Old City. On the other hand, north of the Old City, the strip takes on a broader and more ‘statist’ aspect, and is composed of a combination of settler areas and public state institutions. There, the strip starts with the Workers Council (Moetzet Hapoalim) building in Sheikh Jarrah, passes through the Shimon Ha’Tzadik neighbourhood, to the Shepherd Hotel, the Border Police headquarters, the National Police headquarters, to the Ministry of Housing and from there to the Beit Orot yeshiva, the tunnel leading to Ma’aleh Adumim, after which it connects up to area E-1 and Ma’aleh Adumim.
The settlers’ strategy is transparently clear. They intend to create a situation in which future diplomatic agreements to divide Jerusalem will be impossible. It is clear to them, as it is to the Palestinians, that peace will not come to the Middle East without a just arrangement in Jerusalem - and this is exactly their intention.
Table 3, Appendix A provides details of the targeted properties, both buildings and land, which will further the strategy to actualize the plan described above.
The ideology that motivates the settlers in East Jerusalem is a combination of messianic and nationalistic ideas, and thus differs from settlers elsewhere in the West Bank. Their primary goal is to redeem the land in East Jerusalem and hand it back to the Jewish people. An Ateret Cohanim advertisement defines its goal as engaging in “Buying, renovating and introducing new Jewish tenants into houses and properties in and around the Old City, plot by plot, home by home, step by step, a little at a time”. Their endeavours are fuelled by religious commandments, and since a divine plan guides their work, they are positive that time is on their side and that ‘the Eternal One of Israel does not lie’. They therefore consider their work in East Jerusalem as a mission, a task that not only fulfils the nation’s supreme goals, but Divine Will as well. It is a belief that imbues their life with significance and fills them with pride. Those sentiments were borne out by a woman settler from the City of David complex who reported that “Living here is a huge privilege! It means living in a place with immense value, not only archaeological and historically, but a place with inner spiritual value, it really is the Holy Land. Living here means being plugged into eternal values.”
As a result, they are ready to sacrifice what is most precious to them for the sake of the overarching goal. That integration of nationalistic and messianic ideas engenders a highly inflammable situation, with strong potential to set off a conflagration. “Those concepts are malignant ideological growths that tend to spread lawlessness and destruction on those who cling to them – and on many others who do not.”
The Messianic Plan ????Settler Archaeological Activity
In tandem with the physical Jewish presence itself, there are ‘educational’ and ‘informative’ activities, including tours, lectures and seminars, that are only part of the battle for hearts and minds, for the settler associations are involved in another activity with a strong potential for danger. They are the archaeological digs taking place in and around the Old City. Of these, arguably the most dangerous of all is the dig being carried out in the Muslim quarter near the mosques of Haram al Sharif. Intended to reveal traces of Jewish history, the excavations are damaging traces of other periods that do not match the ideological aspirations directing the work. Even more dangerous are the constant attempts to reach the remains of the Temple. Ateret Cohanim has recently been carrying out an extensive archaeological project on Ha’gai street, around 60 to 80 metres from the mosques, a project liable to plunge Jerusalem into violence. The settlers do not conceal their opinion about what should happen on the Temple Mount, and are generating personal ties with Messianic organisations intent on destroying the mosques and building the third Temple. For the settlers, a war between the Muslim world and the state of Israel following damage caused to the mosques is considered as a phase in the War of Gog and Magog which will hasten redemption. They dream of bringing it closer by whatever means, so that the coming of the Messiah, Son of David, will expedite the establishing of the Kingdom of Israel. As a result, the presence of settlers in the Old City’s Moslem quarter poses an immense danger to the public order.
A settler in the City of David made similar statements, indicating the advantages Jews bring to the Arab environment - “…the quality of life has improved since the Jews settled here. Whenever we enter a new part of the village, the residents say they are waiting for it to become clean and tidy there too,” as if the Jews carry the message of cleanliness and tidiness, implying that Arabs are just the opposite.
Settler Tunnelling in Silwan, and Beneath Al-Wad Street in the Old City
Alarming excavations are currently taking place in two tunnels adjacent to the mosques on Haram al-Sharif. The digs, one in Silwan, and the other in Al-Wad Street, loom as an obstacle to any possibility of a breakthrough in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Of concern is, that as the extreme-right feels existentially threatened, i.e., that there is an actual potential for withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, they may try to prevent it by a cataclysmic action to change the course of history.
Their model for such an action is the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, that managed to effectively stop the peace process. These groups have political and religious-messianic will, and these tunnels supply them with the means to pursue their cause. Ideological background: The idea of erecting “The Third Temple” has surfaced repeatedly since the occupation of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967. The idea is based upon a certain religious belief that the construction of the temple is a necessary stage needed to expedite the arrival of the Messiah. Therefore the entire concept of redemption lies upon the destruction of the Mosque, and eventually with the construction of The Third Temple.
The realization of this idea is met with major obstacles stemming from the Jewish religious law (Halakha), such as the question wether or not the people of Israel are sufficiently pure in order to enter the temple. However, the main impediment is the Muslim presence on the Mount, in form of the two great mosques. From this perspective, the mosques pose not only a political problem, but also a hinderance to the very concept of redemption. Any Jew who wishes to speed redemption and the Messiah must do whatever he can to solve this problem. This concept is not restricted only to the fringes of the religious society, but is popular throughout the centrist religious-zionist movement, and is also pursued by many personages in the state establishment. Historical Background: So far there have been several attempts to infiltrate the earth beneath the mosques. Some of these have been relatively civilized, others have been violent.
In 1981 tunnels near the Wailing Wall were found leading eastwards, towards the Dome of the Rock. The Ultr Orthodox believe it to be the site of the inner sanctum, or “the holy of holies”. The Rabbi of the Wailing Wall, Yehuda Meir Gatz, wished to pursue the completion of the tunnels claiming that once the ceremonial tools of The Second Temple are found the Messiah will come (Mountain of Quarrel, p.216. Nadav Shargaie, Hebrew). It was the then mayor Teddy Kollek that realized the potential threat posed by the tunnel and together with the chief of police pressured PM Begin to seal it.
In 1984 the most serious attempt to blow up the mosques was made. It was carried out by a group known as “The Jewish Underground”, which was compromised of 27 settlers of extensive military experience. Their social background was from the heart of the settler establishment, with some of them from the national-religious 'aristocracy'. Although they were renounced by the religious establishment, they attracted much admiration for the national-religious society.
There were two other major attempts to damage the mosques. In 1974 it was Joel Lerner who made the attempt in order to stop negotiations between Israel and Egypt. In 1984 an attempt was made by “The Lifta Gang” to climb on the eastern walls of the mosques to enter the plaza and destroy them.
It is important to reiterate that in order to engulf the entire region in flames it is not even necessary to actually carry out an action on the Temple Mount. A small provocation is sufficient to cause bloodshed. In 1990 a group called “Temple Mount Faithful Movement” announced their intention to put a cornerstone for the construction of the temple. As a result of the violent repression of the demonstrations against this plan 17 Palestinians were killed. In 1996 Prime Minister Netanyahu and then - mayor of Jerusalem Olmert opened the Wailing Wall Tunnel. In the ensuing riots 70 Palestinians and 16 Israeli soldiers were killed, and hundreds were wounded. Current potential for crisis: There are currently several activist groups leading the campaign for an Israeli presence on the Temple Mount. The key players are: Gershon Salomon, head of the Temple Mount Faithful Movement. According to him, he who controls the Temple Mount has that right to the entire Land of Israel. On the other hand, he who relinquishes control of the Temple Mount must be doubted as the sovereign of the Land of Israel. Josef Elboim, head of the Movement for the Foundation of the Temple. This group suffices with a constant presence on the Temple Mount, and organizes tours there every Tuesday. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the religious school (Yeshivah) Ateret Kohanim in the Muslim Quarter. In a convention in 1990 Aviner was quoted saying that the Wailing Wall Tunnel is a first step towards the construction of The Third Temple (ibid, p.247). Rabbi Israel Ariel, head of the Temple Institute. In the same conference, Ariel said that the tunnel should be a bridge towards the temple. If he had a bulldozers at the time of the occupation of the old city, he would have razed the Temple Mount (ibid, p.247). Rabbi Yossi Palai, head of the “To the Mount association”. This organization performs a monthly ritual that involves a walk around the walls of the Old City. The “Kakh” and “Kahane Hai” movements and members of the Yeshivah “The Jewish Idea” in the settlement of Tapuah.
It should be noted that all these groups are monitored by security forces, and that the main concern of the security forces is an individual who is not a member of any of these groups. Such a person, perhaps with psychopathic tendencies, acting on his own, would be much harder to track.. There is a great potential for such a person to be found amongst “the hilltop youth” in the area of the settlements of Yitzhar, Itamar and Tapuah.
There is no lack of Rabbis who openly preach their wish to harm the Mosques. Rabbi Israel Ariel wrote in 2004 that the disengagement was a punishment for neglecting the Temple Mount. According to him, if the Lord doesn't have a residence then the people of Israel do not deserve one – and therefore He throws us out of our land. In Ariel's words, “if we make the Lord a residence, he will reside inside of us”.
Rabbi David Dudkevitch, the Rabbi of Itzhar and the region of Samaria, says that the Jewish weakness in the site of the shrine radiates onwards all over of the country just as a pain in the heart affects the entire body. The solution he proposes is to take immediate action and to start working towards the return of Jewish control over the Temple Mount.
Elizur Segal, who teaches in the Yeshivah of “The Jewish Idea” in Tapuah, wrote an article praising Barukh Goldstein for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the people of Israel. Goldstein was an American expatriate settler living in Hebron, that in 1994 massacred 29 Palestinians. Elizur continued to write that anyone interested in pursuing the teachings of Maimonides must aspire to blow up the mosques and plow their debris with bulldozers. Level of danger: Generally speaking, after the assassination of Rabin it should be considered that even the worst-case scenarios are plausible. The Israeli security forces take these possibilities into account. In 2004, on the eve of the evacuation of the settlements from Gaza the General Security Service (Shabak, a.k.a Shin Bet) assessed that the potential of a “strategic terrorist attack” in the Temple Mount is “a 7 on the Dichter Scale” (so named for the then head of the GSS, and current Minister of Interior). In the present assessment of the situation, it should be considered that for the messianic groups the evacuation from Gaza was of a lesser significance that a potential evacuation from Judea and Samaria. While Gaza has no religious bearing for the people of Israel, the West Bank is regarded by these groups as holy lands. It should thus be concluded that their motivation for such a “strategic terrorist attack” to interfere with the withdrawal from the Palestinian Territories is much greater than before. Conclusion: Our assessment is that there is a serious danger of an attempt on the mosques. Such an attack might be carried out with various level of severity. Some possible scenarios are:
• An insertion of a pig or idol to the mosques through one of the tunnels.
• A performance of a demonstrative religious ritual, such as a ceremonial sacrifice in the court of the Mosques by extremists that will enter there via one of the tunnels.
• A terrorist attack in the mosques similar to Goldstein's massacre in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The assailants might reach the place using the tunnels.
• A rocket attack aimed at the domes of the mosques, that can be fired from any of the roofs of houses overlooking them.
• A “mega-attack” causing a total destruction of the mosques, achieved by placing explosives directly beneath them using either of the tunnels, or perhaps executing an aerial attack.
It must be reiterated once more that while these scenarios are all imaginary, they are all feasible. The religious-messianic motivation has already been established, there is ample political support, and all that is lacking is the opportunity and the means. The tunnels dug beneath Silwan and Al-Wad Street provide both.
The Public Propaganda-“Good Relations with Arab Neighbours”
A woman settler in the City of David presents herself as deeply interested in maintaining proper relations with the neighbours “…our next-door neighbour, Daoud, really knows us. When there’s a power-cut on the Sabbath, he knows exactly what he has to do. I also pass on old clothes to another neighbour, Mustapha, for his daughter”. That is how she defines the “neighbourly relations”. By the same token, other settlers claim that they enjoy good relations with their neighbours the Arabs make a living from the Jews’ presence. “The Elad association now employs around 40 Arab residents of the village in archaeological excavations, in renovations and maintenance of the houses…we prefer to employ villagers here. It creates a shared interest in peace and quiet in the village. Altogether, the village Arabs earn their living from us, not only the ones we employ….the store owners and taxi-drivers enjoy the fact that we’re here, that visitors and tourists come here, they earn much more”. Another woman settler, named Reginas, claims on the Shofar website, as the Speaker of the Elad Association, that her Arab neighbours are very happy because they make money from the settlers and in fact “…they would be glad if more Jews came to live here”. Between the lines we can identify her satisfaction that Arabs can be bought with work, that by creating employer-employee relations, industrial peace can be achieved.
Taking Control of the Space
It is not difficult for settler associations to lay their hands on Arab property. All they need do is find families in dire economic straits or criminal elements seeking easy money, then purchase property from them via a ‘straw’ Arab middleman and wait for the right moment to seize the property openly. Financing is not a problem. There is unlimited support by American Jews willing to donate, on condition that the recipients maintain a low profile and do not arouse the anger of non-Jews. Hence, they buy properties by unscrupulous methods and introduce collaborator-tenants, while initially refraining from registering the property in their own names until the politically appropriate time.
The entire Jewish presence in the East Jerusalem, whether a single house or an entire compound, rapidly becomes a fortified site in the finest colonial traditions of the nineteenth century. Every Jewish site in the East Jerusalem requires a security fence, guard-posts with armed security personnel, projectors and often closed circuit cameras, accompanied, of course, by a provocative Israeli flag. In their wake come the police forces that patrol the site and are a constant irritation to Arab residents. Whenever Jews leave their home in the East Jerusalem, they are escorted by a pair of armed security guards, attesting to the foreign nature of the settlers, and the artificial, provocative nature of their presence there.
Each Jewish house in the East Jerusalem automatically thus becomes an enclave, or a ghetto in the literal sense of the word – a closed community within itself, fenced off, detached and alienated from its surroundings. Superiority marks their attitudes towards their Arab neighbours, as disclosed on the Ateret Cohanim website where they describe what would have happened in the East Jerusalem if the Jews hadn’t redeemed the land: “…the presence of dozens of dedicated, brave Jewish families and yeshiva students prevented the growth of nests of terrorists and drug dealers like in Gaza, Nablus and Ramallah”.
The methods employed by the settlers to seize Arab properties in East Jerusalem are unscrupulous, as will be made clear below. This emerged in 2005 when the Palestinian collaborator Muhamad Maraja decided to speak to the media and tell what he knows about the methods the settlers employ to “buy” Palestinian houses. The settlers were afraid he would reveal too much and therefore bought his silence for $42,000. This is only a small part of what is in fact going on, but it is enough to understand that we are dealing with highly dubious practices.
Methods for Seizing Property: Three Tracks
The settler organizations maintain – proudly – that all their properties have been acquired legally and above board. From a technical point of view, this may be correct; what they do not include in their discourse are the methods they employ to acquire these properties.
This section describes some of these methods that are known to us, in obtaining property from the Greek Orthodox Church, from Palestinian families, and with government cooperation.
Properties acquired from the Greek Orthodox Church
Although the distinctly sensitive issue, i.e. the acquisition of property from the Greek Orhtodox Church, has not been thoroughly clarified, it seems that the anarchy that resulted from internal disagreements at the Greek Patriarchate enabled church property to be sold off for personal gain, as in the case of the St. John’s Hostel, the Imperial and Petra hotels and a string of shops in close proximity to the Jaffa Gate. The transactions were executed by a straw company headquartered in the Virgin Islands, Richard’s Marketing Corporation, which is represented in Israel by attorney Yossef Richter. In his petition to the Supreme Court in November 2005, the new Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Theophilos III, says that the State of Israel conditions its recognition of his appointment on his authorising those transactions. The Patriarch maintains that the bureau of Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, and Minister Rafi Eitan are placing pressure on him to do so.
Properties acquired from Palestinian families
Arab properties in East Jerusalem are seized by settlers using several methods.
(1) Properties where a member of the family is embroiled in criminal cases and is willing to sell everything he can for financial gain. These people are easy prey and can be tempted with relative ease. Three such examples follow.
The Ajlouni family’s home was seized in February 2004 after a son who was entangled in drugs and criminal activities sold the family two-storey home without being authorised to do so. He also sold four housing units, even though they were registered in the names of his four brothers.
The home of the Dana family was also sold to settlers after a son was involved in the murder of another villager and had to leave home for fear of retribution.
A plot of land belonging to Mohamed Maraga who had incurred heavy debts, was similarly sold. The settlers built a seven-storey building on the plot, without a building permit
(2) Properties where a demolition order is shortly to be carried out, and a city inspector alerts a settlement organization. The owners face the alternative of selling their home to settlers and at least recouping some of their money, or losing everything. In similar cases it can reasonably be assumed that municipal inspectors pass on information to the associations concerning homes about to be destroyed, and dispatch an Arab ‘straw’ broker who closes the deal on the settlers’ behalf. We are aware of an inspector responsible for the Silwan area who maintained close ties with the settlers and internal sources in the municipality. Matti Dan, a leader in the settler movement, was instrumental in halting plans for the inspector’s transfer to a different area.
(3) Properties of families that have incurred debt, and must sell them in order to remain solvent. This has been a common phenomenon over the past few years, particularly since the second intifada when the economy slowed down and many Arab workers in the construction, hotel, and hospitality sectors lost their jobs. Similarly, when trade and tourism both slumped due to the security situation, it severely harmed the livelihood of many families in East Jerusalem.
Properties Acquired with Government Cooperation -The Klugman Report
A major source for seizing such properties is the Custodian of Absentee Property, a body subordinate to the Justice Ministry. The ties between the custodian and the settlers were revealed in 1992 when Yitzhak Rabin’s government set up a state commission headed by Haim Klugman, then Director-General of the Justice Ministry .
Because the Klugman Report is something of a milestone for disclosing the conduct of the settler associations in East Jerusalem and their relationships with the different government agencies, an in-depth analysis of the report is worthwhile.
Haim Klugman - an attorney who was director-general of the Ministry of Justice in Yitzhak Rabin's government – headed an inter-ministerial committee that examined the way in which Arab properties were transferred to settler associations in East Jerusalem. The committee managed to penetrate the security with which government agencies attempt to cloak their endeavours and conceal information about it. In the report, Klugman himself notes that "the Custodian of Absentee Property failed to provide any information at all", adding that “the Registrar of Associations herself attempted to examine the conduct of those associations and requested reports from them, but never received a solid response" (p. 20). Despite the difficulties and the partial picture, the committee’s findings were still enough to provide an understanding of how the method worked.
The Custodian of Absentee Property had good reason to conceal information, because the entire process began with the settlers giving the Custodian affidavits that properties were 'absentee property', without his examining the veracity of the information, even though the settlers' intentions were transparent. All the affidavits were signed by Attorney Eitan Geva, who represented the settlers. The method used was a circular transaction, with several stages that helped cover up any traces. The chain of events began when settlers gave the Custodian affidavits concerning buildings that they claimed were 'abandoned property'. The Custodian would then automatically declare the owners as absentee owners and assume possession of the property. This, despite the fact that "…the Custodian did not visit properties, did not examine them and their value, or whether the process entailed evacuating families, and did not provide opportunities for objections to be filed" (p. 13). Even at this early stage, there were signs that should have aroused suspicion. All the affidavits were authenticated by the same attorney, Eitan Geva, – who is the legal counsel for the settlers association. Many affidavits were given by the same person, while "the Custodian did not make elementary inquiries into their identity, reliability, how the affiant had created contact with Mr. Geva or the Association, the source of the information, or the consideration he received for his services" (p. 13).
Next, the Custodian transferred the property to the Development Authority, from whom it was passed to the Company for the Rehabilitation and Development of the Jewish Quarter, which in turn transferred it to Amidar Ltd. The latter did not bother to examine the most basic details required to set the property's value, nor the degree of entitlement of the settlers who moved into and occupied the building. "Amidar did not examine the properties that it rented to the settlers, did not try to verify the property's physical description, its location, total area, the number of rooms, and so on" - all this in contravention of explicit directives given by the Housing Ministry (p. 13). In other cases, the property was transferred to Imanuta, which then passed it on the possession of the settlers associations.
Previously, in 1982, it had been the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) that dealt with purchasing land and buildings in the Old City, under directions from then Minister of Agriculture, Ariel Sharon; properties purchased by the ILA were transferred to Ateret Cohanim (p. 11). Transfers to the settlers were conducted without a tender process, "and associations or other individuals – whether Jewish or Arab - were barred from involvement in acquiring the rights, all this in contravention of proper procedures and the Tenders Law, as well as without the payment of key money as lawfully required" (p. 11). Renovations were carried out with state funds (p. 19), legal costs were funded by the Treasury (p. 14), as was the security of the buildings - by means of Amidar Ltd., including the maintenance of 450 communication devices and payments for land surveys (p. 14). The payment charged for properties that came into the possession of settler associations was symbolic and ridiculous: for example, a two-storey building was rented for NIS 30 per month, and a four-room building for NIS 46 per month (p. 12). Moreover, the amounts charged were not paid de facto since they were set off from the legal costs ordered against the owners of properties (p. 14).
In tandem, by means of the Housing Ministry itself, the government transferred financial aid to the settlers to purchase more properties. This was done via budgetary items aimed at assisting new immigrants or people entitled to housing as a social benefit (families in need) or to help collective associations (pps. 17-19). The Custodian also collaborated in transferring money from estates, under a decision by the ministerial committee for Estate Affairs. The Company for the Development of the Jewish Quarter transferred monies under the item Preserving and Maintaining National Properties in East Jerusalem even though the properties were outside the defined area of the Jewish Quarter, and even though "it was liable to be a problem to group those properties under the definition of 'national sites and assets in East Jerusalem’.” (p. 21). The Tfahot Mortgage Bank also collaborated by granting loans to associations without receiving the securities that the law required (p. 19).
The committee itself found it hard to define the scope of the budgets that the state granted the settlers: "It appears to the committee that information is incomplete because there is no concentrated information collating all the expenses, and the committee was forced to collect them from several sources " (p. 17). And moreover: "in some budgetary items, money that was transferred to various property transactions was used for goals other than those defined in the budgetary items permitting the outlay of money on these goals". Hence the "existing data do not enable an examination of the total aid provided regarding each property, and if the total aid does not exceed the amount required to renovate and to bring in tenants" (p. 20). Throughout the report, there are strong hints that the funds transferred to purchase or renovate buildings in fact served to fund the association's expenses, not for the goals for which it was given. (See, for example, Klugman Report p. 20).
At the same time, the state employed settlers in salaried positions, by establishing two companies engaged in locating and renovating buildings in the Old City and its surroundings - Mordot Moriah Ltd. and Even Rosh Ltd. The company's managers and employees were all members of the Elad and Ateret Cohanim associations. The ILA also employed two settlers to locate potential properties and land. (Evidence given by Mr. Babai to the committee, p. 10).
Instructions came from the highest echelons of the Housing Ministry. Yisrael Schwartz, manager of the Occupancy Division at the Housing Ministry, gave evidence before the committee. He was not involved in events in East Jerusalem, even though this was in fact part of his job-definition: "I do not know who handled the question of the occupants of the buildings", he said, "the general-manager's directive was to transfer the money to Amidar". A representative of the ILA, Mr. Babai, said this much more explicitly: "The political level decided that every property that belonged to the ILA in the specific area, would be rented to Ateret Cohanim. Two people from Ateret Cohanim located properties for the ILA. The method in which they were handed over was authorised by the then Justice Minister, Moshe Nissim" (p. 10). Aryeh Bar, director-general of the Housing & Construction ministry, told the committee that he was unable to provide data on the identity of the people living in the buildings, because under the minister's directives, the matter was transferred for processing by the associations themselves (p. 13). An Amidar representative, Mr. Pelled, testified that the transaction of the companies set up by settlers and the choice of their managers was not in the hands of the company itself but was "the outcome of a directive from the housing & construction minister, given to the chairman of Amidar's board of directors" (p. 16). Then Finance Minister, Yitzhak Modai, made his own modest contribution by amending the name of the budgetary item designated for apartments for entitled people - from Purchase of Apartments P.A. (P.A. = Purchasable Assets) for Disadvantaged Families, Entitled to Social Benefit Housing and for Ethiopian Immigrants, to simply - Purchase of P.A. Apartments - so that settlers could also be included under this heading (p. 18).
In some of the documents submitted to the housing ministry, the forgery was particularly brazen. The committee discovered, by means of a claim filed by an Arab family proving that settlers had taken over their lands on the basis of a letter signed by a third person who declared that he was the owner and was transferring his home to their possession - while the asset was in fact an empty plot with nothing built on it (p. 40).
The entire process described above, writes Haim Klugman, was tainted with unlawful discrimination, in contravention to proper management, and lacking any reasonable and fair tests. With a certain under-stated emphasis, the report notes that the "boundaries were blurred" between the settlers associations and the housing ministry (p. 16). The greatest liability was placed on the Custodian of Absentee Property: the committee defined his conduct as highly deficient, by any criteria (p. 24). He did not exercise the slightest degree of discretion (p. 25).
Sources of Power and Authority
The Secret Government Committee
Settler activity in the east of the city is not partisan-like, initiated by a cadre of idealists acting on the margins of the state establishment. The settlers are the Israeli government's long arm and they do the dirty work that the government cannot do itself. They are connected to the government's logistics center, fed with its funds, act under its inspiration and are subject to its authority.
How this activity is maneuvered was described by the journalist Anshel Pfeffer of Haaretz. His remarks are quoted below verbatim.
"It is hard to speak of a clear policy or an organized ruling hierarchy with respect to the Israeli government's actions in East Jerusalem and especially around the Temple Mount.
Critical decisions are made in secret, generally in the Prime Minister's office, and in many senses the activity around the Temple Mount resembles Mossad operations or the nuclear program – the Prime Minister makes the decisions with the aid of a small group of discreet advisers in his office and a few officials in the relevant organizations.
“Over the years a secret committee of two members has been active – Ahaz Ben Ari, formerly legal adviser to the Prime Minister's office and Mordecai Tanori, Vice President – Purchasing, in the Israel Land Administration, who coordinated all of the Israeli purchases in the Old City vicinity. The government-owned companies operating in the east of the city are run by religious nationalists, a reminder of the days when the National Religious Party still had a share in the government. The Jewish Quarter Development Company, which belongs to the Housing Ministry and the City of Jerusalem, is managed by Nissim Erez, formerly an NRP City Councilor in Bat Yam. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, in control of the plaza and the tunnels, is headed by Mordecai "Soli" Eliav, who in fact established the fund, first as a private non-profit organization that administered the Western Wall for the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and then, when that arrangement was attacked by the Attorney General, its status was raised to "government organization", today under the Prime Minister's office. Gideon Shamir, an Elkana resident and once Director-General of the Port Authority is General Manager of the East Jerusalem Development Company, owned by the Tourism Ministry and the municipality. All these bodies act together with right-wing organizations such as Ateret Cohanim and Elad. They work together in developing projects around the Temple Mount, often with the Antiquities Authority".
Secret Government Money
The issue of the settlers' budgetary sources is one of the best-kept secrets in the affair of the settlements in East Jerusalem. A journalist with Haaretz, Nadav Shragai - who has a religious-Zionist affinity, states in his research into the battle for the Temple Mount that 60-70 percent of the budget of the settler’s non-profit associations (amutot) derives from state sources. The remainder comes from donations raised abroad, using letters of recommendation from senior figures in the government, including the Chief Rabbis.
Both state and private sources fund the settlers’ operations in East Jerusalem. The governmental sources are clouded in secrecy, and pass through various government ministries under confusing names. Until 1992, the state transferred absentee property and vast sums to the settlers through different ministries, the Housing Ministry in particular. The Klugman report estimated that the government transferred around $8.2 million to the settlers in order to buy buildings, and passed on an additional $12.8 million for renovating old buildings. The report also disclosed that the Jewish Quarter Renovation Company transferred $1.7 m. to the settlers, in the form of monies originating in the Housing Ministry. A $7 million transfer was also made to the Imanuta Company to facilitate the acquisition of St. John’s hostel in the Christian quarter. However, that pipeline was cut off in 1993 following the recommendations of the Klugman report.
Currently the state provides support to the settlers via two channels– one open and the other covert.
In the open channel, the state finances the security companies at an annual cost of NIS 40 million, and also employs many settlers as security guards and in managing the City of David archaeological site.
We received hints about the secret channels during discussions of the Knesset's Interior Committee over establishing a governmental authority for the upkeep of cemeteries on the Mount of Olives. During the discussions, Knesset member Ophir Pines – chairmen of the committee – tried to discover how much money was being channelled by different government ministries to the Mount of Olives. Vast amounts were disclosed, but no one could state exactly where they went. For example, a representative of the Ministry of Religious Affairs claimed that the previous year his ministry had transferred NIS 103 million to the cemetery. A representative of the Prime Minister's office said that the government had decided to transfer NIS 50 million every year to the 'Holy Basin' area of Jerusalem, which includes the Mount of Olives. A Finance Ministry representative said that a governmental resolution had ordered NIS 480 million to be earmarked for the Holy Basin, while a representative of Jerusalem's municipality attested that it budgets NIS 330,000 to the Council of the Jerusalem Cemeteries, which also deals with the Mount of Olives.
The interior committee's chairman, Ophir Pines, expressed surprise that none of the representatives of the government attending the discussions knew how much money actually went to the Mount of Olives. "There are representatives here from every ministry, yet none of them knows how much money was actually directed to the Mount of Olives. The government has transferred millions of shekels without tracking the use that was made of it", he remarked.
The picture that took shape in those discussions is that 'The Mount of Olives' has become a code phrase for transferring money to settlers. Government agencies do not know, or decline to report, where the money ends up, and it is also abundantly clear that the amounts stated here far exceed what is needed for maintenance of the graveyards on the Mount of Olives.
Private Covert Channels
The degree of secrecy with which settlers conceal their funding sources caused a crisis when the Registrar of Non-profit Associations threatened to dismantle the Elad non-profit association if it persisted in refusing to provide details on five entities that donated $7 million to the association in 2005. According to reports submitted to the Registrar, as the law requires, in 2005 the association's revenues totalled NIS 41 million, of which 38 million derived from donations. Most donations came from five donors whose identity is unclear. Thus, Elad received a $2 million donation from Farleigh International IT., and an identical amount from Ovington World-Wide Limited. It was given $1.5 million by Leiston Holdings, $1.4 million from Dwide Limited, and $250,000 from Jacobson. These donations total $7.1 million. In other words, 75% of Elad's total income originated in unknown sources. The Registrar of Nonprofits was not satisfied with that list, and demanded the full disclosure of the donors' details. Although the association was approached several times, Elad persisted in its refusal and did not even file an application for immunity, as the law permits. The Registrar of Nonprofits then informed Elad that its "refusal is likely to raise suspicions that the association is not being conducted in compliance with the Non-Profit Associations (Amutot) Law and the principles of proper management. This may provide grounds for the Registrar to exercise discretion by revoking from the association its authorisation of proper management, and even requesting its dismantling". Such a step would be highly significant for the association, as it would prevent Elad from receiving budgets from the Treasury and make it difficult to sign contracts with the state. Nevertheless, it still refuses to disclose its funding sources and apparently has good reasons for doing so.
The American and Other Connections
Regarding the purchase of the Petra and Imperial hotels, it is noteworthy that the state refusal to disclose the transaction’s financing sources to the church’s legal counsel; raises concerns whether state funds are still making their way to the settlers. It is equally hard to identify the private donors because they demand anonymity. Best-known of them all is Irving Moskowitz, who has become the patron of the East Jerusalem settlers. A group of Jewish millionaires from the United States has formed around Moskowitz, and they support the settlers generously.
Another figure who is well-known to us is American billionaire Ira Rennert of Brooklyn who is a major supporter of the Ateret Cohanim association, and inter alia funded the opening of the Western Wall Tunnel. Also worth mentioning is the Iranian born Swiss-Israeli millionaire Nisan Hakshuri, who is the owner of the Hotel and Casino “Loutraki” in Greece and another well known financial supporter of the settlers. In a newspaper interview in 2007, he announced having donated more than 3 million dollars to the settlers. Yet another channel for funding is through the Russian-Israeli diamantaire Lev Leviev and Russia’s wealthiest man, Roman Abramovich, now living in England, where he owns the Chelsea football team. Both of them visited the settlers at the City of David as guests of ex-Minister Natan Sharansky.
On several occasions, state organisations have actively helped to raise funds for the settlers’ associations - Ehud Olmert, while serving as mayor of Jerusalem, addressed an event organised by Moskowitz, which was aimed at raising funds for building projects in Ras-el-Amud.
Illegal construction by Settlers in Silwan:
Silwan is one of the locations outside the Old City where it is close to impossible to receive a building permit. Because of its archaeological sensitivity, building is not allowed, neither on plots of land nor as additions to existing buildings. Arab citizens who wanted to enlarge their homes by building annexes, either on the property land or on the roofs, are dealt with forcefully by fines, and by the total demolition of the additions. In contrast, over the past few years several Jewish enclaves that never received building-permits have sprung up but surprisingly the municipality has not exercised its authority to halt the construction or return the situation to what it was. Four recent cases throw light on the institutionalized discrimination employed against Arabs and Jews in the same village, is analogous to the discrimination applied throughout the whole of Jerusalem.
Case 1: The 7-Story Building Built Without a Permit
The affair of the seven-storey building is a good example of blatantly discriminatory enforcement. Its construction began in early 2002, but was only ‘discovered’ in June the following year when the building was occupied by the Ateret Cohanim association. There are strong suspicions that the oversight did not stem from technical reasons. City-hall inspectors visit the area regularly and swoop down on any building divergence, but for some reason they overlooked the seven-storey monster built on a plot of 800 square metres. The inspectors are well aware who owned the building going up in the middle of Silwan. Though registered in the name of a local resident, the plot had been sold previously to Ateret Cohanim settlers and it was they who paid for the construction work. Meron Rapaport of Haaretz newspaper published his thorough investigation of the case, featuring among others a conversation between the Arab seller and Yaron Elias, who is in charge of city inspection in East Jerusalem; the latter expressly stated that he avoided dealing with the building for eighteen months “…because I know their connections”, an unsubtle hint to his ties with the settlers from Ateret Cohanim. In the same breath he hinted about coordination between the municipality and the settlers and possibly with other agencies that provide support to the settlers “How did I know it belonged to you? I have friends from all sorts of bodies and authorities”. Moreover, when the offence was discovered, the municipality could have applied official sanctions such as issuing an evacuation order or sealing the building, but instead left matters as they were, citing the somewhat surprising grounds that it was not clear “who the owners of the building were”. Clearly this is an unfounded response, since who if not Elias knew that the building was owned by settlers. From 2003 until March 2004, city-hall investigated the matter and refrained from filing any charges against any of the tenants. During the same time period, it issued dozens of demolition orders against Arab citizens and brought them to trial. As well, the municipality refrained from charging the building’s tenants any arnona (municipal tax) payments. The manager of the Billing Division wrote in March 2005 that no records were even kept concerning the building at the municipality: this contravenes internal procedures, which require city inspectors to report any new building to the billing division, so it can be billed for arnona - even if it is illegal.
Case 2: Justice Lahovsky Rescinds Demolition Order
The second case is a special one since the criticism levelled against the municipality emanated from the legal establishment. Justice H. Lahovtzky, presiding over the district court, revoked an administrative demolition order against a building owned by Arabs, because the municipality used discriminatory behaviour by failing to file indictments against Jewish neighbours for the very same offence. The affair reveals the discrimination in its full ugliness. Reading the indictment, we learn that as soon it was discovered, the Arab-owned building received an administrative demolition order. In contrast, the other building, which was intended to serve as an Elad Association yeshiva, comprising three storeys extending over 345 sq. m. only received a cessation-of-work order. The judge dismissed, one by one, the charges filed by the municipality and commented that while the two offences were identical, the municipality applied the most stringent procedures permitted by the law against the Arab-owned building – an administrative demolition order. Against the Jewish-owned building, however, “the respondent chose to act in a more lenient judicial way” - by issuing an order to cease work on the building. Taking into account that disparate behaviour, the judge revoked the demolition order against the Arab-owned building, and concluded his summing-up with severe remarks: “Whatever the ownership of the two buildings, and whatever the designated purposes of both buildings, the difference in the procedures applied by the respondent (the municipality – MM) towards the two is discordant and insufferable to such an extent that the court can no longer disregard it”, and “…having been satisfied that there was no room to apply the law inequitably between the two buildings, and that there is no good explanation for the respondent’s refraining from doing so, I find that there was a material flaw in the administrative act that justifies the order’s revocation. It behoves the respondent to use against one building the same procedures that it applies against the others …and I therefore instruct the revocation of the order”.
Case 3: Containers, Caravans, and Guard Posts
The third case is comprises an open space on the way to the Siloam Pool where, in 1998, a mini-settlement started to grow, composed of containers, caravans and guard posts. Though temporary in nature, that sort of construction is also prohibited under the Planning & Building Law. If Arabs place caravans on sites, they immediately receive evacuation or demolition orders. Nevertheless, for years the municipality refrained from issuing any kind of order against this area. In 2001, when I served as a member of the city council, I approached the administration for construction supervision and asked what steps the municipality had taken against that complex. The answer was that no steps had been taken but the matter was being dealt with. A file was in fact opened in February 2002, and in October 2004, after far too long an interval, the district court handed down its ruling. Then, at the last moment, the settlers’ attorney produced a document stating that the complex is not in fact owned by Elad, but of an Arab named Yussuf Gamal, who holds a British passport, and the indictment should be in his name, not the settlers. The municipal prosecutor did not express any objections, and the judge deleted the name of Elad association from the indictment, and the chair of the association, David Be’eri, and instead sentenced Yussuf Gamal, who is a UK resident. Even if it is claimed that the judge was not aware of the situation and acted in good faith, the ploy of registering a property in the name of Arabs is an old story at the municipality, and the city prosecutor should have made this clear. Even if we cannot prove it, the municipality’s behaviour raises worrying thoughts about the solid ties between the settlers and the municipal authority, which constitute a conflict of interest..
Case 4: Using Muhammad Maraga to Buy Property for Settlers
The case of Muhammad Maraga is most illustrative to understand the association’s modus operandi. The affair was exposed in the comprehensive article by Meron Rappaport, which appeared in Haaretz on 1 April 2005.
Muhammad Maraga was induced – by vast amounts of money, good times overseas, casinos, limousines and prostitutes - to forge documents and sell a plot owned by his extended family. He was a man with a rather weak character and a criminal record, and was targeted by settlers who exploited him to the full. He started buying property for the settlers, chiefly in the Yemenite quarter of Silwan. First he bought the home of the Asla family for Ateret Cohanim, and received brokerage fees of $10,000. Later he bought a plot from his uncle Hamidan Maraga and was paid 20,000 dinars as well as receiving package-deal holidays in Antalya, and sessions with call-girls in Jerusalem’s finest hotels. Muhammad was promised that once the building was constructed , he and his family would be helped to emigrate to Canada. He then bought two other buildings in the Yemenite neighbourhood, one belonging to the family of Achmed Faraj and one in his own family’s possession; for those deals he was paid $30,000 and a visit to Atlantic City.
At this point however, the building’s owners filed a complaint with the police stating that the documents under which the transaction had been performed were forged. At this point Maraga realised he was in danger and began planning his disappearance from Israel. Once the transaction was completed, the settlers offered him a $150,000 fee and a plane-ticket overseas. Ultimately, Muhammad Maraga was forced to flee Silwan, and hid out for a period in Eilat until he disappeared in August 2005. No trace of him has been found.
Dr. Meir Margalit
Appendix A: Lists of properties and Areas in East Jerusalem Settled or under Threat
Shrinking East Jerusalem
Step by step, in a gradual and consistent process, since the 1980’s the state of Israel is shrinking the urban space available in East Jerusalem. An estimated 24000 or 26000 dunams of roads and infrastructure are included of East Jerusalem have been expropriated to enable the building of settlements, including residential areas, an industrial zone, an airport and a university. (arrow to these areas) This area does not include large-scale public buildings that were expropriated by the state of Israel- such as the National Police Headquarters, the Ministry of Justice and the Jerusalem District Court.
Table 1: Settlements in East Jerusalem, 1968-1998
Settlements Year Constructed Area (dunams) Population in 2004
Ramat Eshkol 1968 1365 11172
Ma'a lot Dafna (East) 1968 380 3712
Ramot Shlomo 1994 1126 13979
Old City 1867 122 2428
Ramot Alon 1970 2066 39771
Neve Yakhov 1972 1759 20374
Pisgat Zeev 1980 5468 40911
French Hill 1968 970 6625
Mount Scopus 1968 1048 1256
East Talpiyyot 1973 1196 12291
Gilo 1971 2859 27086
Har Homa 1991 2523 4308
Atarot (including the airport) 1970 3327 10781 in 2002
Givat Ha'Matos 1991 310
TOTAL 24519 183913
Table 2: Descriptions of Seized Property in the Old City
The following charts include properties seized underground (e.g. Wailing Wall Tunnel), rooftops, and regular above ground properties.
Private Settlers’ properties
Description Inhabitants Belong to Street Bldg. Type
3 houses, part of the huge compound 4-5 families Ateret Cohanim Near Herod's Gate House 1
Part of the second floor 2 families (Baruh & Simhi) Ateret Cohanim Al Qadisia (in front of school) House 2
3 floors 2-3 families Ateret Cohanim Aqbat Rahabat House 3
Two floors 4 families Ateret Cohanim El Bustani 4 House 4
3-4 floors 5-6 families Ateret Cohanim Behind Austrian hospice House 5
Two floors 3-4 settlers Ateret Cohanim Al Wad St. Sharon house 6
4 floors, 8 apartments Under construction Ateret Cohanim El Jabshe St. House under construction 7
2 families; 6-8 singles Ateret Cohanim El Kanais St. House 8
4 rooms For the security guards Ateret Cohanim Al Wad-Bab el Hadid House 9
6 dispersed rooms in a compound 2 families,
4 singles Ateret Cohanim Al Wad St. House 10
Two floors 4 families Atara Le Ioshna Aqbat Khalidihya Beit Hazon/ Beit Hamaarabim 11
Two floors Four families Ateret Cohanim Aqbat Saraiha House 12
Cohen family 4 families Ateret Cohanim Aqbqt Saraya House 13
The Sharabati house 2 families Ateret Cohanim Aqbat Halidiha/Al Hakary House 14
The Cordoba family 1 family Ateret Cohanim Aqbqt el Halidiya House 15
Huge house )Beit Hamaalot) 1 family Ateret Cohanim Aqbqt Takia House 16
Beit Rehut 2 families Ateret Cohanim Shawish/Khan el Zait House 17
3 floors 1 family Ateret Cohanim Shawish/Khan el Zait House 18
Josef Family, 3 floors
(green door) 1 family Ateret Cohanim Aqbat el Hadid House 19
More than 20 rooms. Still under dispute 20 young, 2 families Ateret Cohanim Christian Quarter Hospice Saint John 20
Educational and Religious Institutes
Second floor in the building 60-80 students Al Wad St. Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim. Igud lokhmei yerushalayim 21
Two floors 2 families Al Wad Young Israel Synagogue 22
Three floors, including dormitory 100 students Bab el Hadid Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim 23
Place of occasional prayer Bab el Khadid The Small Kotel 24
A dormitory for the yeshiva students Two floors El Wad Mekhinat K'damTtzvait Ateret Yerushalayim (pre-army program) 25
4 floors. 200 students Atara leyoshna/ Hasidei Breslav Aqbat Khalidihya Yeshivat Breslav- Shuvu Banim 26
Near Lions Gate Police station 27
Al Wad Police Station 28
Government Bab el Silsilat Police station 29
Al Wad Police Station 30
2 rooms Government Near Holy Sepulchre Police Station 31
1 floor Municipality Latin Patriarch St. Municipal Pedagogic Center 32
2 rooms Israeli Government Near Jaffa Gate Tourist Office 33
Near Jaffa Gate Citadel Museum 34
Near Jaffa Gate Police Station – The Kishle 35
Near Jaffa Gate Post Office 36
Constant presence of guards Via Dolorosa Exit from the Kotel Tunnel 37
Three stories (25 meters deep) Ateret Cohanim El Wad Archaeological Sites 38
Betokhekhei Yerushalayim Ateret Cohanim El Wad Empty Store 39
El Wad Restaurant 40
Open from time to time. Name of owner- Eli Ateret Cohanim Silsilieh St. Shop 41
Open on holidays Ateret Cohanim Silsilieh St. Shop 42
Under Costero house 1 single men live there Ateret cohanim El Qirmi Hall for celebrations 43
Near the Jewish Quarter Archeological site 44
Plains for a big compound Ateret cohanim Burj el Laqlaq Near Herods Gate 45
Ateret Cohanim Near Jaffa Gate Hotel Imperial 46
Ateret Cohanim Near Jaffa Gate Petra Hostel 47
Ateret cohanim Aqbqt Halidyah Zalum Family 48
Above the Ground
Western Wall Tunnel 50
Zidkiyahu Cave 51
Table 3: Current Israeli Settlement Construction and Plans aimed at Judaization of East Jerusalem
Neighbourhood Initiating Party Current Structures Planned Construction Land Used
(1 dunam=1000 sq. m.)
Old City Ateret Cohanim (Settler Association) Control of 31 buidings in the Muslim and Christian Quarters, mainly along Hagai St, near Damascus Gate. Also St. John’s Hostel, Imperial Hotel and Petra Hotel, which are all in legal dispute.
Silwan – Yeminite neighbourhood Ateret Cohanim Unlicenced construction of seven-story building + 2 houses
Silwan ("Ir David" and the surrounding area) Elad (Settler Association) 30 buildings total currently; housing around 50 families, or close to 250 residents ICAHD believes that there are many more buildings, still inhabited by Arab citizens, waiting for possession to be taken Seized more than 55% of Ir David
Sheikh Jarrakh (Shimon Ha’Tzadik neighbourhood) Shimon Ha’Tzadik (Settler Association) Taken over 7 buildings, housing 30 people, as well as a Yeshiva with 50 students; 4-5 further buildings owned by the association; Current plans call for a building complex of 160 housing units; Ownership claimed of 17 dunams in the area
Sheikh Jarrakh (Shepher Hotel ) Ateret Cohanim Construction file opened in October 2005 of 90 housing units 9 dunams
Ras-al-Amud Financed by Irwin Moskowitz Complex of Ma’aleh Hazayit, containing 132 apartments, currently with approximately 60 families; The complex is still expanding 15 dunams
A-Sawana, Beit Orot Yeshive A Yeshiva with proximally 80 students who live there. A new complex is planned on another 10 dunams. proximally 13 dunam
Abu Dis Financed by Irwin Moskowitz two houses Kidmat Zion complex containing 340 housing units to be built – construction on hold due to political pressure) 30 dunams
Jabel Mukaber; Nof Zion complex Owned by Jacques Nasser and Abie Levy (private initiative) Construction planned for 350 housing units; 150 room hotel and service buildings 115 dunams
Shuafat Ezra Bellilios Intended construction of 5 buildings of 4-5 stories and a commercial centre 12 dunams
Silwan; "Givati parking" Developer "Maaleh Beit David" possible involvement by Elad Plan for construction of 5 storey building with a banquet hall, commercial centre with view towards the Western Wall plaza and a car park. 11.5 dunams
Givat HaMatos; partly on the land of Beit Safafa Ministry of Housing Construction of 1,500 homes 310 dunams
Givat Yael; near village of Wallajeh Jewish National Fund A vast development is planned of 3,500 homes (partially in jurisdiction of Jerusalem, partly in the West Bank) connecting Jerusalem with Gush Etzion 2000 dunams presented to Min' of Interior. 1000 dunam in reserve
Bethlehem Rd., near Mar Elias Monestary Housing Ministry and Jerusalem municipality Planned construction of Har Homa C complex, connecting Har Homa with Gilo; construction of Har Homa D
Herods Gate Ministry of Housing Construction of 33 buildings close to the Western Wall, along with a synagogue 3.8 dunams