Haaretz exposed today that a new plan (plan no. 14142) was recently submitted to the Jerusalem Municipality for the expansion of the Seven Arches Hotel on the Mount of Olives. The plan seeks to build another 75 rooms, a large conference room and a swimming pool. The hotel was build in the 60’s by the Jordanians, on land that belonged to the Hashemite Royal family. Since 1967, the Israeli government was in charge of the property, and it was run by a special custodian in the Israeli Ministry of Finance.
In recent years, settlers started to target the hotel as a strategic point for settling – by events, seminars and other attractions for the Jewish public , because of its special location, on the hill top next to the Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives, with a breathtaking view of the Temple Mount (the Haram A-Sharif) and the Old City. The Elad settlers organization, which is running touristic projects in East Jerusalem as well as settlement activity in Palestinian neighborhoods, has been using the hotel for conferences, seminars and also weddings and private events. Groups of IDF soldiers are occasionally invited to educational programs run by Elad in the hotel over the weekends.
The new plan that was recently submitted still has a long planning procedure to go through which should take several years until it could be approved. However, the plan, if implemented, can expand the settler-presence on the site for larger number of participants.
The Construction Permit for a New Settlement in the A-Swaneh Palestinian neighborhood
Not far from the 7 Arches hotel, still on the Mount of Olives, a new settlement got the final permit to start to be build. According to Yisral Hayom newspaper the Jerusalem Municipality issued last week a construction permit for 24 new housing units near the Beit Orot settlement in A Swaneh neighborhood. According to our check in the Municipality website, the permit was issued only for two of the four buildings that are planned, i.e. for 12 units only, but it could be that the municipality database was not updated yet, and that it is only a matter of time till the other two buildings receive their permit.
The land of the new settlers compound is owned by a company named “Alessa Investments SA” which claims ownership on other properties in East Jerusalem, like in Abu Tor and Beit Saffafa. Although the owners of this company are unknown to us, we can get a hint by the company that submitted the permit request. Not surprisingly, the tracks lead us to the name of the Elad association, as the submitting company is Hama’ayan company, which is owned by Elad.
As soon as a construction permit is issued, the initiators can start building. This means that the settlers can choose the timing that is best for their objectives, in order to create new facts on the ground and also new crises and embarrassment for the government.