Sunday, February 3, 2013

Initiating a Large Settlement: Next

Here's another thread we should have made more progress on than we did. Almost a month ago, we presented a document from corridors of the Ministry of Construction and Housing, which told how in December 1980, some of the officials were gearing up the planning process of a new town north of Jerusalem. At the time we told part of the story which appears in the file, and promised we'd post the second half the next day... Ah well. That didn't work out, did it.

Anyway. That previous document was an internal summary written by one Ministry of Construction official to another. It was very business-like: 'we're running out of space to build neighborhoods, and we've got to look further afield.' We don't know what happened next, but in February the file contains a flurry of follow-up letters, all of them from beyond the ministry. There are three identical letters sent on February 9th by one Yisrael Adler, who worked for the D.E.L. Development and Engineering company--one to the communications officer in the West Bank military governor's office; one to the Electricity Officer there, and one to the Head of Archeology at the Rockefeller Museum (I assume this means the Antiquities Authority). Each letter informs of the intention to plan a new town in the area, and requests to be informed where the communications and electricity lines are, and where the sensitive archaeological sites lie.

And note: An employee of a private firm is requesting this information from state officials, in the service of a state project which has apparently hired the private firm.

If it's the minutiae of how policy gets implemented which interest you, the letter of February 18, 1981 is perhaps the most intriguing. Its author was Benny Dvir, who worked in the programs department of the Ministry of Construction and Housing, a subordinate of Zeev Barkai who wrote the letter launching this project (as we saw in the previous post). So it's a government document. It was sent to Engineer T. Litersdorf in Tel Aviv, one of the principles of The Litersdorf-Goldenberg engineering firm. It mentions that meetings have been going on, and recognizes that the private-sector professionals have seen Barkai's letter of December 1st. Dvir's letter summarizes what everyone knows so as to have a written record of it - so far, so standard paper-pushing. Yet then the letter itself veers off into new territory, when it presents the motivations for creating a new town north of Jerusalem:
Political considerations:
1. Having analyzed various political options, the ministry has come to the conclusion that the Jewish presence in the metropolitan area of Jerusalem needs to be strengthened.
2. The non-Jewish neighborhoods (Azariya, Shuafat, al-Gib, Anata etc) are growing rapidly.
3. Within the city lines the ratio of Jews to non-Jews is 2.5:1. In the entire metropolitan area, however, it's more like 1:1. There needs to be a massive growth in the Jewish presence.
4. There's only one main road from the plain up to Jerusalem; we need to widen this corridor.
Urban considerations:
1. Housing prices in Jerusalem are too high.
2. Not enough diversity in the types of housing in the city.
3. If the city grows north, we may be able to develop train transport in that direction.
4. Greater diversity of employment.

Other considerations:
1. Size: at 15 km from Jerusalem we'll need a largish town; closer in, it can be smaller and lean on the center for services.
2. Ownership: while areas with private ownership are not impossible for development, we're looking for areas with state ownership.
3. We're looking for areas with convenient topography.
I remind you that it was in response to these letters that the ministry ended up with a map and description of the E1 area (and E2-6, as well as W1-6)

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