The proposal to build a military academy on the Mount of Olives have been mooted for a number of months, but official plans were deposited on the Mount of Olives in October 2012, detailing the location of the planned college (you can find is a map here, and see a photo of the site here). Israeli citizens have 60 days to file objections.
The plan was initiated by the governmental Jerusalem Development Authority, in conjunction with the Israeli Defence Force and the Israel Land Authority. More details about the history of the planning process can be found here. A press release from the Israeli Ministry of the Interior called the site on the Mount of Olives ‘optimal‘, but there are a number of concerns around this proposal.
- This is a place of deep spiritual importance for the three Abrahamic religions.
For Christians, the Mount of Olives is an important place because the Garden of Gethsemane – where Jesus was arrested prior to his crucifixion by the Roman authorities – is at the base of the mountain. In scripture, it is also the place where Jesus ascended to heaven.
There has been a Jewish cemetery on the Mount for over 3,000 years. Many chose to be buried it is believed that the resurrection of the dead will begin here when the Messiah comes.
Within Islamic teaching, a thin bridge will connect the Mount of Olives and the Haram A-Sharif (the Dome of the Rock mosque) at the end of days.
- This is one of the most disputed pieces of land in Jerusalem.
In 1968, following the annexation of East Jerusalem to the state of Israel, the site was expropriated by the Israeli government. Previously, it was owned by two Palestinian families (the El Khatibs and El Imams). Now, it lies adjacent to the Palestinian neighbourhood of A-Suwane, and close to the Israeli settlement of Beit Orot.
Hagit Ofran, an Israeli peace campaigner, said that ‘the location, at one of the most sensitive and disputed areas in Jerusalem, is a little more than provocative.’ A press release published by the Israeli Ministry of Interior said that other sites in Jerusalem were examined, but this was found to be “optimal.” On the contrary, we fear that this development could be seen as a provocative act, taking Jerusalem yet further away from becoming a city of peace.
Israeli citizens can raise their concerns with the authorities within 60 days of the initial plans were deposited – that is until mid-December.
If you are a non-Israeli citizen and would like to raise your concerns, you can find out how to do so here.