The Jerusalem municipality has begun the process of approving a plan for a new housing complex, including a synagogue, in the heart of the Arab neighborhood of Silwan south of the Old City.
The plan, submitted by the right-wing Elad association, includes 10 apartments, kindergarten classrooms, a library and underground parking for 100 cars.
Documents show the land the complex is to be built on belongs to the Israel Lands Administration (ILA); however, the ILA said it was unaware of the plan.
The municipal spokesman said Elad had leased the land, and therefore the plan does not require ILA approval. A municipal document dated January 21, 2008 notes that all necessary recommendations had been received in the planning file.
The area slated for the new project is located 200 meters from the Old City walls, in an area considered one of the most sensitive in the present negotiations with the Palestinians over the final-status agreement.
In a letter yesterday to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, attorney Daniel Seideman, representing the Ir Amim association and a city council member, Pepe Alalo (Meretz), asked whether Mazuz thought it proper that a synagogue be established in the heart of an Arab neighborhood.
The Ir Amim association addresses issues impacting Israeli-Palestinian relations in Jerusalem.
Seideman reminded Mazuz of repeated pledges by the State Prosecutor's Office to the High Court of Justice to ensure there were no recurrences of the government allowing right-wing associations to take over public lands in Silwan and the Old City. He attached the photocopy of a 1991 deed of sale by the Jewish National Fund of the lands of Silwan to the ILA. The ILA then transfered the land to Elad in a process that was not made public.
A 1992 government investigation headed by then Justice Ministry director general Haim Klugman claimed that associations managing properties in East Jerusalem, including Elad, had taken them over by continuously submitting false affidavits, misusing the law governing absentee property and illegally transferring tens of millions of shekels public money to the associations.
The Talmud teaches that G-d hates theft, and He does not accept a mitzvah or religious service done through using stolen objects or stolen land (Succah 30a). "For I am G-d Who loves justice, and hates theft in a burnt offering" (Isaiah 61:8).
Even if it turns out that this land was purchased legally at every stage, the fact that they are building in a disputed area means that this synagogue, in which Jews will gather and recite the standard prayers for peace, will actually be an obstacle to peace and a cause for danger to Jews and non-Jews. This new neighborhood, like all settlements, will be symbolic of the continued Zionist takeover of the Holy Land in violation of the Torah.