News: Mount of Olives military academy plans delayed for Obama’s visit

From France24:

‘AFP - Israeli plans to grant final approval for a military academy in annexed east Jerusalem have been delayed to avoid tensions ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit, army radio said on Thursday.

The controversial project, to be built on the Mount of Olives, had been on the agenda of a Thursday meeting of the interior ministry’s district planning committee but was taken off at the last moment, the radio said.

It said the academy plan would not be discussed until after the Obama visit on March 20-22.

The project was approved by a local committee in January but still needs the final sign-off by the district committee before tenders can be issued.

The ministry refused to comment on Thursday.’

Read the full story here.

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Updates and sad news

We are sadly yet to receive a reply from the petitions (online and paper) that we submitted in mid-December, both to the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and, cc-ed, the Israeli Embassy in London.

Moreover, the news has recently been announced that the Local Planning Committee in Jerusalem recommended that plans for a military college on the Mount of Olives be approved (see more info from The Jerusalem Post and France 24). Now, the decision passes to the District Planning Committee.

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Pepe Alalu (Meretz) said that the location is a “clear political goal.”

‘“Building an army college, especially over the 1967 Green Line, is very problematic,” Alalu said, adding that the site had been scrapped as a location for the Supreme Court due to the area’s sensitivity. He added that the massive underground parking lot, expected to reach five floors below ground, will bring hundreds of cars to the area and strain the limited road infrastructure, as well as blocking access to the Augusta Victoria hospital’ wrote The Jerusalem Post.

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‘Israel advances east Jerusalem military college plan’

News from France24 (via AFP):

‘An Israeli committee has advanced a controversial plan to build a military college on the Mount of Olives in annexed east Jerusalem, an Israeli non-governmental group said on Thursday.

“The local committee recommended approving the plan,” said Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim, which supports the “equitable” sharing of Jerusalem.

“Right now it’s in the process of gathering the objections. The local committee recommends and then the actual decision is taken by the district committee,” he told AFP.’

Read the full story here.

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Story from the Jerusalem Post: ‘Approval of military college to pass another hurdle’

‘The controversial plan to move the National Defense College to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem is expected to pass another approval hurdle on Wednesday after a hearing.
The Jerusalem municipality approved the location after hearing public opposition.

The college, whose final location was first announced in February 2011, is awaiting approval from the Interior Ministry’s District Building and Construction Committee, as well as defense establishments.

The 42,000-square-meter structure of the college is planned for an open area between the Arab village of E-Tur and Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus. It is to be located within a few hundred meters of the Old City with a commanding view of the Temple Mount.

Deputy Mayor Pepe Alalu (Meretz) said that the location is a “clear political goal.”

“Building an army college, especially over the 1967 Green Line, is very problematic,” Alalu said, adding that the site had been scrapped as a location for the Supreme Court due to the area’s sensitivity. He added that the massive underground parking lot, expected to reach five floors below ground, will bring hundreds of cars to the area and strain the limited road infrastructure, as well as blocking access to the Augusta Victoria hospital.’

Read the rest of the story here.

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Petition submitted!

We have sent the petition (both the online and paper version) to the Israeli Ministry of Interior and, cc-ed, the Israeli Embassy in London.

However, it’s not too late to spread the word – although the consultation period for Israeli citizens has now closed, we hope that more attention can be drawn to the plans as they progress through the next stges of development. We will keep this blog updated with updates when we have them, and post the Israeli Ministry of Interior’s response to our letter and petition.

Thanks for everything readers of this blog have done to bring awareness to these plans already!

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Press release: Bishop condemns controversial plans for a military academy on the Mount of Olives

The Right Rev’d John Davies, Bishop of Swansea & Brecon, has joined campaigners in condemning plans to build a military college on the Mount of Olives.

Bishop John signed a petition that calls on the Israeli authorities to abandon their plans on the basis of the sites’ deep significance for Christians, Muslims and Jews, and on its status as a disputed land between Palestinians and Israelis. You can sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/reject-plans-to-build-a-military-college-on-the-mount-of-olives

He said “A proposal to construct a military installation of any description on the Mount of Olives is both provocative and deeply unsettling to three major faith groups and to countless others who yearn for peace and justice.  Anyone with an understanding of what this place represents will surely recognise that the proposal is deeply flawed. I hope that it will be quickly reconsidered”.

Plans for a military college to be built on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem were initiated by the governmental Jerusalem Development Authority, in conjunction with the Israeli Defence Force and the Israel Land Authority. A consultation was opened in mid-October, giving Israeli citizens 60 days to respond. The consultation closes on 18th December.

The Mount of Olives is of deep spiritual significance to Christians, Muslims and Jews. It is the site of Jesus’ arrest by the Roman authorities, and his later ascension to heaven. In Jewish teaching, this is where the resurrection of the dead will begin when the Messiah comes. According to Islamic tradition, a bridge will connect the Mount of Olives and the Dome of the Rock mosque at the end of days.

The Israeli Ministry of Interior have said that other sites were examined but this was found to be “optimal”. Israeli peace campaigner Hagit Ofran, says that “the Mount of Olives is under dispute between us and the Palestinians, and we will have to solve this dispute only through an agreement. Bringing the Military Academy to this spot is quite insensitive and if I may add, not so smart, of our Government.”

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (England), Methodist Peace Fellowship, Baptist Peace Fellowship, United Reformed Church Peace Fellowship, and Christian think-tank Ekklesia have all also called for the plans to be abandoned. More information is available at www.peaceonthemountofolives.wordpress.com.

Notes to Editors

  • Photos of the site where the college will be built are available.
  • A map showing where the college will be built is available.
  • Contact peaceonthemount[at]riseup.net
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Bishop of Swansea and Brecon condemns plans for military college on the Mount of Olives

The Right Rev’d John Davies – Bishop of Swansea & Brecon – said

“Quite apart from the political and military conflict in Israel/Palestine – which any politician of a decent heart and sound conscience will feel duty-bound to resolve for the good of all concerned – a proposal to construct a military installation of any description on the Mount of Olives is both provocative and deeply upsetting to three major faith groups and to countless others who yearn for peace and justice.

Anyone with an understanding of what this place represents will surely recognise that the proposal is deeply flawed. I hope that it will be quickly reconsidered”

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