Blocking Mideast Peace
Money For Settlements in Abu-Dis, Not for Poor Neighborhoods
by Eyal Hareuveni
Originally published 10 January 1997
in Kol Ha'Ir

Out of its own pocket, the Jerusalem municipality is paying for the planning of a new settlement in abu-Dis, even though it's private property. Other plans for public use were frozen due to budget cuts.

The Jewish municipality will cover the cost of planning the Jewish settlement in abu-Dis, 298,000 shekel [$92,000], from an improvement tax to be charged to residents of the settlement, if it gets built. The plan is for development of privately owned property, including a lot owned by Dr. Irving Moskowitz, the patron of extreme right Israeli organizations. Usually, the municipality refrains from planning property that is privately owned unless the public interest is involved. Because of budget cuts last year, the municipality froze several projects, including those intended to serve the general public, such as the plan to construct public buildings in the Patt neighborhood, rehabilitation of the Talpiot neighborhood, and the construction of park-and-go lots.

Ornan Yekutieli, head of the Meretz Party in the city council, asked Mayor Ehud Olmert this week to cancel plans to build the new settlement. "The investments of Moskowitz in the city are blood money. We and our children will pay for it in blood, while he sits in his bingo mansion in Miami and throws lit matches onto the Jerusalem gunpowder keg." Yekutieli also claims that the settlement will increase the cost of the eastern ring road by several dozen million shekel, since it will necessitate the construction of retaining walls and acoustical protection. The municipality estimates the cost of the road to be 400 million shekel, but senior municipal officials say that the cost will reach a billion shekel.

The municipality spokesman replied that the plan is funded from the municipal budget. "The municipality often plans a residential neighborhood for land owners, and later recoups its planning expenses from the land owners", it said.

Copyright 1997 Kol Ha'Ir. For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.

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