Master plan approved for Nabi Samuel archaeological/holy site north of Jerusalem

Following a decade of deliberations, objections and slight changes to the plan, the Civil Administration’s Supreme Planning Committee approved the plan for the development of the archaeological and holy site of Nabi Samuel. The plan pertains to the site itself allocating dedicated visitors’ areas including a restaurant, a learning center for tour groups, a shop and a conference room. It includes a new access route, moving the entrance to the site from east to west.

Nabi Samuel is the central holy and archaeological site in the area north of Jerusalem, on the seamline between the settlement of Givat Ze’ev and the neighborhood of Ramot. The development of the site will make it easier to link it to Jerusalem, physically and conceptually.

The plan ignores the village of Nabi Samuel/Samwil, adjacent to the archaeological site, which suffers from a lack of building permits as none of its proposed master plans have been approved. The villagers urgently need a plan that will allow for basic infrastructure and the expansion of areas for residential homes and public buildings.

The site itself features a mosque, a tomb attributed to the Prophet Samuel, and ancient remains from various periods. To its northeast lies the Palestinian village of al-Jib, to the northwest are the settlements Givat Ze’ev and Giv’on, and to the west is the village of Beit Iksa. The Oslo Accords put the site and the village in Area C. Today it is home to about 200 residents.

Three years ago the Civil Administration’s planning committee’s subcommittee for objections had rejected a similar plan following objections tendered by the Palestinian residents of Nabi Samuel and the organizations Bimkom and Emek Shaveh.

In 1995 the site was declared a national park spanning  an area of about 3,500 dunams which include the archaeological site, the residents’ homes, and agricultural lands that belong to them. Of the area declared as a national park, only 52 dunams constitute the actual archaeological site. Nabi Samuel is considered a holy place for Jews, Christians and Muslims. Most of the visitors to the site are Jewish worshipers who visit the tomb they believe to be the Tomb of Samuel, situated within the mosque. Archaeological remains date from the Hellenistic period to the present day.