The mayor of Jerusalen, Nir barkat, plans to establish a new Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem, according to news reports Tuesday. Around 200 new homes are planned for the area, which lies between Abu Dis and Jabal al-Mukkabir.
The settlement, referred to as Kidmat Zion, will be built on land purchased by Irving Moskowitz, a Florida businessman and patron of Jewish settlers.
Kidmat Zion is on the edge of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, near the wall that separates Jabel Mukaber and Abu Dis. The area of Kidmat Zion first was purchased in 1925 by ultra-Orthodox Jews from Mea Shearim known as the "Tenants' Association," but a Jewish neighborhood was never built there. From 1948 to 1967 the land was under Jordanian rule. After the 1967 war and the establishment of the new municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, most of the land bought by the Tenants' Association remained outside of the boundaries of Jerusalem and is currently on the other side of the separation wall in Area B. Sixty dunams remain inside the boundaries of Jerusalem.
Today a number of Jewish families live in two houses, bought from Palestinians, in Kidmat Zion. Some of the homes consist of additions built without permits. The settlement is next to a small Palestinian neighborhood called Abu Mjeira, which is home to two extended Palestinian families, Qunbar (160 people) and Surhi (200 people). Since the construction of the Separation Barrier was completed in this area, the access roads from Abu Mjeira to Abu Dis have been disconnected; the only transportation route that remains available to these families' homes is through the road adjacent to the Barrier. That road is blocked on both ends with permanent checkpoints: the Sawahreh checkpoint in the south, which is permanently closed to them, and the former Cliff Hotel checkpoint, through which passage is permitted only to members of the Qunbar and Surhi families registered with the Border Police; guests, public transportation or service providers are not able to pass through.