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Pre-State Jerusalem Neighborhood to be Renewed

The Housing Ministry has approved a plan to build the largest Jewish neighborhood on land liberated in 1967 on the site of a pre-state moshav.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 12/19/2007, 12:24 PM

Israel’s Housing Ministry has begun renewing the Jewish neighborhood of Atarot in northeastern Jerusalem which was destroyed by the Arabs in 1948 and liberated by Israel in 1967.

The existence of the plan was revealed by a Haaretz report and confirmed by the Housing Ministry. The neighborhood is in or adjacent to the area of land that was the subject of an article published on Arutz-7 on JNF land being grabbed by Arab squatters.

“Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim has given the green light for planning a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, despite the fact that senior American officials say Israel had promised not to move forward with the project,” Haaretz reported, proudly saying its report earlier this year on the plan had elicited pressure from the US State Department to shelve it. Boim met with Israel Lands Administration head Ya'akov Efrati to finalize the permit last week.

Atarot's land was owned by Jews since the early 1900s.

The new neighborhood will consist of 10,000-15,000 housing units – constituting the largest neighborhood built in Jerusalem’s eastern side since it was liberated in 1967. It is adjacent to the Atarot Industrial Zone, Jerusalem’s largest industrial park, with 160 factories and businesses.

In 1914, the site was settled by Zionist youth of the Second Aliyah, including Levi Eshkol, who later served as Prime Minister. They erected a communal farm called Moshav Atarot, which was destroyed by the Jordanians during the 1948 War of Independence and the land occupied for the next 19 years.

Following the 1967 Six Day War, Atarot was returned to Jewish hands. A British air strip built atop the Jewish farmland during the British Mandate became the Atarot Airport, Jerusalem’s only civilian air strip.

After Yitzhak Rabin's government created the Palestinian Authority and granted it tens of thousands of assault rifles, sniper fire forced the airport to close down at the start of the Oslo War in 2000.

The master plan for the neighborhood reportedly includes a tunnel linking it to the Binyamin community of Tel Zion.