The Jerusalem municipality announced plans on Tuesday to expropriate land in the Arab neighborhood of Ras Al-Amud in eastern Jerusalem, next to the historic Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.For more information on the opposition to the visitor centre, see Peace Now's post Fast Track Planning for a Visitor Center in The Mount of Olives (April 25, 2017).
The move is the first step towards the construction of a visitors center to serve those visiting the ancient Jewish burial ground, one of the oldest and largest Jewish cemeteries in the world, and other historic landmarks in the area.
According to the left-wing daily Haaretz, the center is to be built in between the main road running through the neighborhood and the wall surrounding the cemetery, nearby a recently closed mosque.
The planned visitors center will also include an events hall, gift shop, and mapping office.
While the new facility will enable thousands of visitors to tour this ancient site or visit the graves of loved ones, not everyone is happy about the project.
Hagit Ofran, a senior member of the radical left-wing Peace Now group, which opposes Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem, labelled the plan “settlement tourism”.
“Building a tourist site in the heart of the Holy Basin of Jerusalem, next to a mosque, facing the Temple Mount, really means building a kind of settlement.”
Ofran argued that the presence of a tourism center in the area, something that ordinarily would be viewed as advantageous to local residents, would somehow harm the local ‘fabric of life’.
“This project, together with other settlement tourism [projects] being pushed by the government in other Palestinian neighborhoods near the Old City, not only increases tensions in Jerusalem but harms the gentle fabric of life there. These [projects] also threaten the chances of reaching a compromise agreement on Jerusalem.”
The One who created the Mount of Olives will return there one day, and he won't need to consult a visitor centre:
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. Zechariah 14:4