Press release: The Ministry of Housing acted against Attorney General in case of ‘Davidson Center’ in Old City of Jerusalem

In response to an appeal by Emek Shaveh, the Attorney General stated that the Ministry of Housing deviated from its mandate when it transferred the management of the ‘Davidson Center’ archaeological park to Elad Foundation, a private settler organization.

The Ministry of Housing was supposed to reach an agreement over the management of Davidson Center (via the Jewish Quarter Development Company) solely with the East Jerusalem Development Company. The Attorney General is working urgently to prevent the transfer of the Davidson Center to Elad Foundation.

About two weeks ago, Emek Shaveh petitioned the Attorney General to halt the transfer of the archaeological park known as ‘Davidson Center’ to Elad Foundation. The archaeological park is adjacent to the Western and Southern Walls of the Temple Mount. Findings in this area date to the most important periods in Jerusalem’s history, beginning from the 7th century BCE to the late Islamic periods. We see it as paramount that the archaeological site continues to be managed by Israeli governmental bodies and not by ideological and political foundations such as Elad.

The Attorney General’s response is significant on various levels:

1. The Attorney General recognizes the archaeological and cultural importance of the site. His response letter states that a site of primary public and national significance such as Davidson Center must remain under governmental jurisdiction. Additionally the response stated that the cultural, religious and geopolitical significance of the site must be taken into consideration in its management plan.

2. The Ministry of Housing received a permit to end a legal battle concerning the East Jerusalem Development Company (EJDC)’s financial debts to the Jewish Quarter Development Company (JQDC). The JQDC deviated from its mandate when it signed an agreement with Elad Foundation allowing it to manage the site instead of EJDC, as was previously the case.

3. The Attorney General stated explicitly that legal measures are being taken to prevent the transfer of the site to Elad Foundation.

4. Although the petition by Emek Shaveh related solely to Davidson Center, the Attorney General’s affirmation of the site’s historical and cultural significance, and the need to retain governmental oversight there, corresponds to Emek Shaveh’s claim that other archaeological sites such as ‘Ir David’ should not be managed by Elad Foundation.

Additional information about Davidson Center and its archaeological importance can be found in Emek Shaveh’s publication Remaking the City (2013).

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