|Tomorrow, January 11, the District Planning Committee will be holding a discussion on objections submitted against a plan (TPS 101-0773184) for the construction of a new police precinct bordering the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber. The plan was initiated by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Police. According to the plan, the new station will be significantly expanded and moved from its current location to a plot of land just opposite the present area that should be designated for public buildings, such as schools, to serve neighborhood residents. While the plan calls for the ostensible establishment of a neighborhood police station, the plan's details rather reveal that it will constitute a massive security headquarters and border police base, replete with detention facilities and laboratories.
It should likewise be underscored that the plot of land being used by the current police station has been allocated for the construction of hotels, which appears will facilitate the expansion of the Nof Tzion settlement situated in the heart of Jabal Mukaber (see map below). The Nof Tzion settlement project is slated to include a total of 22 residential buildings with 395 housing units, approximately 100 of which are already inhabited. Along with commercial centers, educational institutions, and a sports field, the project includes the future establishment of two hotels in the settlement's vicinity on land housing the current police station. Thus, the plan to relocate the station will directly enable the expansion of the settlement via its hotel project and will serve to create an Israeli built-up continuum in the area.
Jabal Mukaber Residents and Ir Amim Files Joint Objection
Together with the residents of Jabal Mukaber, Ir Amim filed an objection against the plan in October 2021, which will be discussed tomorrow at the District Planning Committee. In its joint objection, among the arguments presented, it cites the disproportionate scale of the planned police facility relative to the size of the local population, the acute shortage of public buildings in the area and the absence of a proper needs assessment for the community. Severe disparities in urban planning, education, and service provision are widespread across East Jerusalem, including within Jabal Mukaber.
The lack of public buildings, such as educational institutions, in the neighborhood is part of the systematic discrimination in planning and building in East Jerusalem, which results in the grave neglect of the needs of Palestinian communities. The shortage of public buildings erodes these communities' capacity to develop their physical and social space and significantly infringes on their individual and collective socioeconomic rights, including their right to community life. The latest data reveals that the classroom shortage in East Jerusalem grew to 2840 in the past year, while many of the existing classrooms and educational facilities are in substandard and hazardous conditions, including those within Jabal Mukaber.
In light of the dearth of public buildings and/or public spaces in the neighborhood, the objection underscores the complete planning error and misuse of the respective plot of land. Rather than allocating the space to meet the dire public needs of the community, the authorities see it fit to utilize the land for a massive security base on the edge of the neighborhood. According to the objection, a plan of such magnitude implies that members of the community are seen as constituting a "threat" rather than actual residents of Jerusalem entitled to equal socioeconomic rights and equitable access to municipal services.
The depletion and appropriation of public spaces in East Jerusalem to serve Israeli interests and the expansion of setter enclaves in Palestinian neighborhoods not only erode the fabric of these communities, but severely impinge on Palestinian individual and collective rights and further entrench Israeli control of East Jerusalem.