Funding Approved for Settler-Run Projects in Silwan and Jebel Mukabber

Israeli and international media are reporting (here and here) that on Sunday the Jerusalem Municipality’s finance committee approved 16 million shekels to fund settler-run projects in Silwan and Jebel Mukabber. Sources inside the Municipality indicate that the actual funding for the projects is 20 million shekels (around $5.5 million USD). Some of the funding will come from the Municipality and some from the Prime Minister’s office.

Reportedly the funding for Silwan will be funneled to the City of David – run by the settler organization known as Elad. Haaretz reported: “According to the proposition which the city council’s financial committee is expected to approve at its upcoming meeting, the project will include ‘building wide walkways, archeological digging, and other development.’ The project is also aimed at developing the Herodian era street, uncovered in recent years, underneath Silwan’s main thoroughfare. In addition, the project will include building a ‘functional model,’ at an estimated cost of NIS 4 million, as well as a ‘video exhibit,’ to cost NIS 9 million, and a ‘exhibition tunnel,’ with a NIS 7 million price tag.” Sources inside the Municipality suggest that at least some of these plans have already been deemed unfeasible, and that in effect the Committee approved a pot of money for purposes that have not, as yet, been made clear.

The funding will also reportedly be used to build a ritual Jewish bath known as a “mikveh” to serve the settlement of Nof Tzion, which is located in the middle of Jebel Mukabber. This settlement – a private project of Bemuna (the same company that was in the news August 6th with the announcement of a “new settlement” in East Jerusalem”) – is home to around 90 families. It has faced serious problems attracting buyers, and in 2011 ran into serious financial difficulty. At that time the project was nearly bought by a Palestinian-American businessman. His purchase was ultimately thwarted after the banks involved, under pressure from activists, rejected his offer.