Thursday, August 23, 2012

Zoning sub-committee for East Jerusalem, Oct 3rd 1967

As presented here, in September 1967 the regional zoning committee for Jerusalem in the Ministry of the Interior set up a sub-committee for East Jerusalem, and this marked the transition from the rather haphazard Israeli actions immediately after unification to systematic procedures. (Or at least that's what it looks like, based on the sort of documents we've been looking at).

The second meeting took place on October 3rd 1967, and dealt almost entirely with one single topic, with one odd exception described below. That topic was the plaza in front of the Western Wall. There were essentially two proposals. One called for dividing the plaza into two sections, a lower one in front of the Wall for prayer, and a higher one behind it for visitors. The other proposal called for one single sloped plaza. Then there were side issues, such as where to put public toilets, whether paving the plaza would create permanence, and whether this was a good thing or if the assumption was that there would be a subsequent stage of development which ought not now be pre-empted. The members of the committee were unhappy that the Ministry of Religious Affairs (which, interestingly, was not represented on the committee) was already digging at the site, lowering the the level of the plaza and thus raising the hieght of the Wall. Clearly, there were different opinions at this stage about the jusridiction of the area.

It's also interesting to note that the committee assumed there would be a portable mechitza, partition, to be used during times of services betwen men and women, but moved aside at other times.

At the end of the meeting some of the members went off together to visit the site. Before setting off, however, they quickly dealt with one other matter, qouted here in its entirety:
A request to repair a kitchen. Ibrahim E. in the el-Saadiya neighborhood of the Old City requests permission to repair his kitchen which was destroyed during the Six Day War. The committee authorized the request on the condition that an engineer confirm the safety of the construction.

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