The building permit has finally been issued for construction of a $100 million Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem.
Approval for the permit was granted Tuesday (July 12) by the Interior Ministry's District Planning and Construction Committee.
Unlike other buildings in the capital, however, the museum was forced to receive its approval from the state, rather than the municipality.
Islamic groups backed by European rights activists have fought the project for years, saying that the site is an ancient Muslim cemetery called “Ma'aman Allah” (Believers in Allah) – also known as the Mamilla cemetery. They say the burial site contains thousands of graves and dates back hundreds of years.
Dozens had been “planted” just west of the cemetery in an apparent attempt to create “facts on the ground” for the Waqf Islamic Authority to submit a demand for additional land to be placed under its authority. No graves were under the tombstones.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, named for the late famed Nazi hunter and which has run the project since 2004, has said the museum will be built on the adjacent municipal parking lot – built 50 years ago – and not on the cemetery itself. The Muslim community did not protest the construction of the parking lot when it was built.
The museum plans include a three-floor structure with two underground levels as well. An archaeological garden will also include a Roman aqueduct discovered during routine excavations at the site prior to construction.
The building plans have been designed by the Tel Aviv-based firm, Chyutin Architects.