Narrow Coalition Passes ‘City of David’ Construction Law

YERUSHALAYIM -
A view of Shiloach (Silwan), in eastern Yerushalayim. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In the coalition’s first legislative test since the resignation of Yisrael Beytenu from the government, the Knesset passed on its second and third reading a law that will allow Israeli construction in areas that have been designated national or historic parks, depending on specific circumstances.

Dubbed the “City of David” law, it is seen as being specifically beneficial to the efforts of Jewish organizations to build in the City of David area of Yerushalayim in the Shiloach (Silwan) neighborhood.

Passing by a vote of 63 in favor and 41 against – two more votes than are presently in the coalition – the law allows for construction of homes in areas that have been designated national parks, taking into consideration the environment and surroundings. In urban areas that have been declared national parks, where there is already housing stock , the law will allow for the refurbishing of structures or even new construction in line with the character of the neighborhood.

The law is actually a change to the existing measure on national parks and sites, which imposed a blanket ban on construction in areas that were declared as such. According to MK Yoav Kisch, head of the Knesset Interior Committee, the law will principally help the Elad organization, which has been purchasing homes in the City of David neighborhood for years and settling Jews in the historic neighborhood. Many of the homes had been owned by Jewish families before the Jordanian occupation of Yerushalayim after the state was declared in 1948.

The law was proposed by MK Nurit Koren (Likud), who said that the new law “will ensure the protection of nature and vistas, as well as extremely beautiful sites and archaeological sites, while allowing for natural development in areas where there are communities, thus preserving the rights of residents in areas where they live.”