Farce at the Civil Administration’s Supreme Planning Committee

The committee chairperson at the start of the session on objections to build a lift for the disabled at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, said: “We have all decided that this is an important plan which should be advanced.” She also asked: “Why object? What is this attitude?”

 This morning, the Civil Administration’s Supreme Planning Committee discussed objections to the plan to build a lift to make the Tomb of the Patriarchs accessible to people with disabilities.

The discussion was conducted in an unprofessional manner, in that it was not grounded in facts and began with a statement from the chairperson that showed the committee had made up its mind prior to even hearing the objections.

During the discussion Adv. Eitay Mack representing Emek Shaveh argued that the plans were drawn up without an opinion from the Staff Officer for Archaeology (who is responsible for overseeing archaeological sites and monuments in the West Bank). The chairperson replied that an opinion was tendered prior to the discussion. However, it became clear during the discussion that apart from very general guidelines, the whole planning process was conducted without the involvement of the Staff Officer for Archaeology.

It also became clear during the discussion that no alternatives to the lift were considered and that  research into other sites around the world which have dealt with the challenge of enabling access to people with disabilities was not undertaken.

When the architect presented the plan, he explained that he made no attempt to design the structure to blend in with the ancient structure since this would have been impossible: “There are 3500 years of history of architecture represented here. We are highlighting the past through contrast. We’re not touching the structure and leaving it in all its splendor.”

Emek Shaveh: The most important historical, archaeological and holy site in the West Bank has been subject to reckless and amatuer planning and is the victim of politically motivated, unprofessional decision making.