|On December 16, the District Planning Committee is slated to discuss for a second time the plan for the Ohr Somayach Yeshiva (TPS 68858) designated for a plot of land (marked number 1 on map below) at the entrance of Sheikh Jarrah. The committee is projected to approve the plan.
The plan calls for the construction of an eleven-story building with eight levels above ground and three below, including a dormitory for hundreds of students and faculty. In the master plan for Sheikh Jarrah, the land was originally designated for public buildings to serve neighborhood residents. Ir Amim's submission of data, detailing the acute shortage of schools in the neighborhood, during the District Committee discussions in July 2020, served to thwart the plan's approval at the time. Nevertheless, the committee is likely to approve the plan at the additional discussion scheduled for next week, which is not open to the public this time around.
A Settler Stronghold
If approved, the construction of the yeshiva will significantly bolster the efforts of state-sponsored settler organizations to transform large portions of Sheikh Jarrah into a large Israeli settlement through evictions of Palestinians and settler takeovers of their homes. Over the past few months, the Israeli courts have upheld eviction demands against 12 Palestinian families, including the Sabbagh family, from the Kerem Al'ajoni section of Sheikh Jarrah, ruling on behalf of settler groups. Various appeals and legal proceedings have only temporarily halted the families forced removal from their homes.
Approximately 35 families are at risk of eviction in this area, while an estimated 40 more families are under threat of eviction in the Um Haroun section, on the west side of Sheikh Jarrah. A total of some 75 Palestinian families stand to be displaced from their homes in the neighborhood in favor of settler organizations.
This phenomenon is reflected symmetrically on the southern side of the Old City Basin where Ateret Cohanim is spearheading a wave of evictions in Batan al-Hawa, Silwan, placing nearly 700 individuals at risk of displacement.
Given their strategic locations as gateways to the Old City, the establishment of state-backed settler enclaves in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan not only serves to fragment the Palestinian space, but to consolidate Israeli control in and around these areas and erode conditions necessary for any future agreed political resolution on Jerusalem.