Despite efforts by Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz to stop it, a new national park on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem has been approved.
The District Planning and Building officially approved the park on Thursday evening, ignoring recent pressure by Peretz not to do so.
The new national park will be built on the eastern border of Jerusalem, next to the Arab neighborhoods Isawiya and A-Tur, and will prevent expansion of these neighborhoods.
Peretz, a member of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party, has been trying in recent months to prevent the approval of the park, claiming the reason for his opposition is not political, but because the planning for the park has not been up to the standards he has set.
However, according to many on the right, including Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, Peretz has been under pressure for months by leftist groups to prevent the project from advancing so that the aforementioned Arab neighborhoods would not be affected by it.
A report on Army Radio Thursday said that Peretz wrote to the planning commission that he wanted to reexamine the project, because of the “environmental impact” it would have on the Arab neighborhoods.
The Mount Scopus national park was one of the building projects announced several weeks ago by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gideon Saar.
Two months ago, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited Mount Scopus and called to promote the construction of the national park.
"Anyone who looks at this area clearly sees that it is the last link between Jerusalem and the desert. We must maintain this asset. Only those who identify with Shelly Yechimovich and Zahava Galon can think of giving it away,” Lieberman said at the time.