MK Khenin Calls on Government to Stop Har Harat Building Plans

The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee called Tuesday, December 29, upon the Housing Cabinet to put an end to building plans at Har Harat, saying that these plans will seriously threaten the integrity of the Jerusalem region’s green space. Environmental groups led by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and Green Course have long protested the building program for Har Harat, which would bring thousands of apartment units to a 160-hectare space between West Jerusalem and Mevasseret Zion.

A view from Har Harat

A view from Har Harat (Photo: Wikimedia)

Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List), who chairs the Knesset’s Social-Environmental Lobby, called the plans outrageous and megalomaniac, and contrary to public interests. “A new Holyland affair is born,” said Khenin, making reference to how, on the very same day, the Supreme Court partially granted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s appeal to his earlier conviction in the Holyland corruption case. (A panel of five justices determined that Olmert will serve 18 months in prison instead of the six-year sentence handed down to him by the Tel Aviv District Court last year.)

During the committee meeting Green Course activist and Hebrew University student Tzeruya Yaari spoke about how there are plans for housing units all around Jerusalem waiting to be built, adding that the “destruction of natural assets will be irreversible… What is taken away now will be lost to the world forever,” Representatives of both the Jerusalem and Mevasseret Zion municipalities likewise emphasized that their cities have ample building plans of their own, making construction on Har Harat unnecessary. On the opposing side, a representative of the Israel Lands Authority, which is promoting the plan, explained that the apartments would only be constructed on the site of a former quarry, and could provide a new source of employment for Mevasseret Tzion.