Mount Scopus Slopes Park Approved for Public Review
On March 5, the Regional Planning Committee decided to deposit Plan 11092A for public review. This plan would establish a National Park on the eastern slopes of Mount Scopus, beyond the Green Line, in a wadi nestled between the Palestinian neighborhoods of Issawiya and A Tur. Under routine circumstances, the declaration of a national park would not necessarily generate interest. But the circumstances of this plan, and its ramifications are hardly routine. Israel has already expropriated more than 35% of the privately owned land of East Jerusalem for the purpose of building settlement neighborhoods (in excess of 50,000 residential units for Israelis). Now, additional lands owned by the residents of Issawiya and A Tur will be, to all intents, expropriated by Israel. While declaring the site a national park does not nullify the the owners’ property rights, it inevitably deprives them of the ability to exercise these rights in any meaningful way by denying them the ability to develop or sell their land. The declaration of the park will, in effect empty ownership of virtually all practical significance. The goal of Plan 11092A is self-evident: to be a link between the two concentric encirclements of Palestinian East Jerusalem: the inner encirclement of the Old City and its visual basin, as designated by the governmental Old City Basin Project, and the outer encirclement in Greater Jerusalem, as disclosed by the E-1 plan between Ma’ale Adumim and East Jerusalem. The new national park will be a bridge, creating forging a geographical link between the Old City basin and E-1. With the decision to deposit the plan for public review – one of the last steps before final approval – the objection process will ensue, after which the plan can enter into effect. A map of the plan can be viewed/downloaded here.