Israel’s Highest Honor to Director of Elad Settler Group

As announced by Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett last week, the Israel Prize is to be awarded to David Be’eri, director and founder of the Elad settler group. Be’eri was lauded for his contribution to the country, and particularly for the activity of the City of David archeological site. Ir Amim and others have challenged the legality of permitting a private group with clear political orientation to manage a national park, but Elad continues to manage the City of David site nevertheless.
Education Minister Bennett described Be’eri as “one of the great builders of Jerusalem in modern times.” Be’eri himself was quoted in the Hebrew press as saying that Elad’s activity showed that it was possible to have “real everyday coexistence between neighbors without politics.”
In practice, Elad has worked to place hundreds of settlers in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, focusing on the Wadi Hilweh section of Silwan, where it has settled over 350 people. The group’s activity also displaces Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem neighborhoods. The combination of large-scale tourism projects that promote an exclusive, settler-backed narrative on the city and massive settler compounds in East Jerusalem, with strong government backing, serves to foil any chance of a peaceful resolution for the city’s future.

See a Haaretz report for more on the Israel Prize decision: