Obama dispatches envoy to Israel to discuss settlements
U.S. demands Israel halt construction in East Jerusalem market
By Akiva Eldar
Tue., June 02, 2009 Sivan 10, 5769
Washington is furious over the Interior Ministry's anticipated approval of a plan to build a new hotel in East Jerusalem, just 100 meters from the Old City's walls. The plan, which would see the demolition of a wholesale market and kindergarten, is slated to be approved today.
In conversations with Israeli officials, senior American officials have made it clear that they want Israel to freeze all plans for expanding the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem, and especially in the Holy Basin - the area adjacent to the Old City.
The regional planning and building committee for Jerusalem will discuss the plan Tuesday. It was submitted by the Jerusalem municipality, which owns the land on which the hotel is slated to be built, and the state-owned Jerusalem Development Authority, which will actually construct it.
The site in question is in the wholesale market, just east of the Rockefeller Museum.
The Interior Ministry's district planning office told Haaretz that it will recommend the plan's approval.
The plan calls for a 200-room hotel that will be nine stories tall on its eastern face (where the ground is lower). It will also include a commercial building, which will be five stories tall on its eastern face, plus another three stories underground.
The plan will require the existing wholesale market to be demolished, along with a Palestinian kindergarten.
The hotel plan is only one of several proposals for expanding the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem. Another, which would involve evicting hundreds of Palestinians from King's Valley, on the outskirts of Silwan, was approved Monday by the Jerusalem municipality's planning committee despite the opposition of the city's legal advisor, Yossi Havilio.