Recently the Israeli media (here and here) and international media (here) have begun reporting on Israeli plans to establish a huge new national park on the slopes of Mount Scopus (this was reported on previously by TJ, back in April 2011, when the decision to deposit the plan for public review was made). The story is now in the news because the plan for the park (Town Plan 11092A) was actually deposited for public review on November 15th. A map of the plan can be viewed/downloaded here.
The clear goal of this park is to take land away from Palestinian residents and make it available for future Israeli development, consistent with Israeli government/settler plans to develop the entire area around the Old City into a sort of Jewish evangelical tourist theme park. As we have been warning for years now, this plan includes establishing a territorial bridge (courtesy of the Mount Scopus Park) between the Old City’s “historic basin”, across Mt. Scopus, out to E-1.
The Mount Scopus Slopes plan is not irreversible, but nonetheless it is a significant strategic step with very troubling implications. The two major settlement trends in Jerusalem are expansion of the settler domain in the inner core (surrounding the Old City), and in the outer core (the settlement “blocs” to the north, south and east of the city). The Mount Scopus Park is the linchpin of these two trends – denying Palestinian residents of Issawiyah and A-Tur their hinterland (essentially drawing hard borders, in perpetuity, that limit them to the already built-up areas of their neighborhoods), and acting as an “anvil” across Mount Scopus linking the inner core to E-1. For further analysis, seehere.
Finally, the Mt. Scopus Slopes Park, with its connection to E-1, plays directly into growing concerns that the Netanyahu government may be planning to move forward with E-1 in the near future – with one possible in indication of this intention being current efforts to forcibly evict the Bedouin population resident in that area.