Monday, January 06, 2014

Elad's visitor center

HAARETZ: Legal challenges mounted against planned visitor center in East Jerusalem. Proponents say it will bring much-needed development to Arab neighborhood, while critics argue plan could hurt residents, alter city's character and ignite religious tensions (Nir Hasson). Excerpts:
The complex will include an entire floor to display antiquities from the City of David digs, including some of the most ancient Jewish artifacts unearthed in Jerusalem. It will come complete with classrooms, exhibition halls, an auditorium, a gift shop, a restaurant and a 250-car garage. The structure will provide access to the ancient underground street dating the time of King Herod that runs between the City of David and the Western Wall plaza .

Opponents of the plan, including architects, archaeologists, writers, academics and public figures, say that the project would alter cityscape – and character – around the iconic Old City walls. They are also wary of Elad's involvement in the project. The organization already administers the dig, though under the mandate of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The opponents say a private entity should not be handed the reins when an archaeological site of supreme scientific importance hangs in the balance.


Elad is reviewing the objections and has yet to respond and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority says project will not harm the archaeological remains lying underneath.

“The Israel Antiquities Authority has been digging at the site for more than eight years in order to understand and carry out archaeological research [and] to enable the building to be integrated with the antiquities," the parks authority said in a statement. "The building was planned in a manner that fully relates to archaeological finds discovered [there]. In addition, the plan for the building particularly and meticulously relates to the Old City walls so as not to harm the landscape’s sight lines and the majesty of the Old City walls. The building does not rise more than one story higher than the road separating the building and the [Old City] walls.”
Much background on Elad and its involvement with archaeology is here and links.