Knesset Committee approves draft bill to allow construction in the City of David/Silwan

On the 4th July the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee passed a proposal for a bill promoted by the Elad Foundation which would enable construction within the City of David Archaeological Park. The bill proposes allowing construction within residential neighborhoods that are situated within national parks in cities. The City of David settlement and archaeological site is the only neighborhood that fits the category outlined in the proposed bill.


The chairman of the committee Yoav Kish (Likud) who is in favor of the bill said: “The park came to the neighborhood.” Meaning that the residents of the neighborhood predated the Jerusalem Walls National Park declared in 1974. While it is true that the Palestinian residents of Silwan predated the national park by hundreds of years, the Jewish settlers, who are the intended beneficiaries of this law, have only moved into the City of David/Silwan neighborhood in the early 1990s.

For the Palestinian residents of Silwan, the inclusion of their neighborhood within the area of a national park has meant that they have been subject to draconian restrictions on construction and renovations within their neighborhood. In theory, the settlers of the City of David were subject to the same restrictions. The proposed law is intended to relax these constraints and make way for tens or hundreds more settler families in Silwan/City of David.

The committee approved the bill despite objections by the Ministry of Justice, planning officials and the Attorney General. Kish was not interested in the professional opinions within the ministries and requested only to hear the position of the relevant ministers. Ayelet Shaked, the Justice Minister, said she supported the bill despite objections from within her ministry. No Palestinian residents of Silwan, where the City of David Archaeological Park is located, were present in the discussion. All the representatives of the Zionist Union in the committee voted against the proposed bill.

The bill will now go to the Knesset for the first of three votes. If the bill passes the first plenum vote, it will be returned to the committee and then passed back to the Knesset for a second and third vote. This process could take months, and if elections take place before the bill passes, it will be voided.

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