JERUSALEM, Feb 28, (JMCC) - Details of plans to renovate Jerusalem
’s Old City are gradually surfacing, showing extensive works slated to take place in the crowded city center.
A municipal plan entitled “Organizing the Renovation and Preservation of the Old City” shows that infrastructure development is planned for many of the Old City’s 361 streets and alleys, extending over an area of 85 dunams.
The plan is based on a document prepared by the city’s planning team that details every Old City avenue, its current status, and the measures needed to preserve it.
Some of the major historic sites to be restored include the square outside Damascus Gate, Wad street running south of the Gate, the spice market, the Christian quarter and Omar Ibn al-Khutab arena.
Most of the refurbishing, however, will be on those streets north of the al-Aqsa mosque.
Crews will redo the pavements, add lighting and plant gardens in these key areas.
Palestinians were not included in the planning process, says attorney Qays Nasser.
“Nor will residents and local merchants have the opportunity to object to the plans, even though it will transform the Old City completely into a new Israeli city,” says the lecturer in planning regulations.
Construction in Damascus Gate square will include excavations undertaken by Israeli antiquities authorities lasting as long as 30 months.
Residents have expressed their fears
that such a long period of construction in the area will seriously hamper economic development, which is already depressed.
Further, the plans imply that archeological discoveries in the area could alter the course of the renovations and their period of implementation.
Tensions are already high in the city of Jerusalem as Israel tries to further secure its demographic majority ahead of final status talks. Palestinians seek the eastern half of Jerusalem, including the Old City, as the capital of a future Palestinian state.