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The very eye of the storm - Silwan 

By Akiva Eldar

April 02, 2009- Haaretz

Jawad Siam pulled out a brochure issued by the Jerusalem municipality heralding development plans for his place of residence, the village of Silwan in East Jerusalem. He pointed to the map in the brochure, where the neighborhood's streets were marked. "You see this, Hashiloah Road?" he asked. "All these years, it was called Ein Silwan Street. 'Ma'alot Ir David' Street? That was Wadi Helwa Street. The street next to it, 'Malkitzedek,' used to be Al-Mistar Street."

From two small rooms, not far from the Old City walls, Siam and his colleagues in Silwan's Ein Helwa neighborhood committee, as well as a small group of Jewish friends, are waging a tenacious struggle on one of the world's most volatile battlefields. As he sees it, the "conversion" of the street names, the settling of Jews there with the encouragement of rightist organizations, and the municipality's intention to demolish dozens of buildings in the neighborhood, are merely a prelude to an eventual transfer plan. The real goal, he believes, is the expulsion of Ein Helwa's 5,000 residents, part of a goal of reducing the Palestinian presence in the area.

Silwan, which the Israeli authorities call the City of David or Kfar Hashiloah, lies in the heart of the "holy basin" surrounding the Old City. Here is where Jewish-Palestinian struggles over houses, religion and culture are steadily multiplying: Right-wing organizations keep taking over yet another building and another site, sometimes with the municipality's assistance; straw men tempt Palestinians into selling their homes; petitions to the Supreme Court come on the heels of allegations of libel; archaeologists clash over these organizations' control of antiquities' sites in the area; and the police try to undermine every official Palestinian activity, including cultural ones.


According to the so-called Clinton initiative, presented during the 2000 Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Silwan was supposed to become part of the future Palestinian capital. The international community remains concerned about the ongoing attempt to upset the holy basin's delicate balance. Many diplomats tour the area and send detailed reports back to their home capitals.

For years, this balance was preserved by a moderate mayor (Teddy Kollek) and cautious governments (like that of Yitzhak Rabin). In September 1996, the combination of a right-wing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and a right-wing mayor, Ehud Olmert, led to the opening of the Western Wall tunnel. This "festive" event culminated with bloody disturbances in the territories, in which 16 Israeli soldiers and more than 60 Palestinians were killed.

The current blend of the old-new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Jerusalem's relatively untried mayor, Nir Barkat, as well as the fact that several government ministries (infrastructure, construction and housing) are in the hands of right-wing parties, may herald an increase in the level of tension in the city as a whole and in the holy basin in particular. Last year, before the local elections, Barkat took a well-publicized tour of Jerusalem's Palestinian neighborhoods, accompanied by activists from right-wing organizations, including David Barry, the head of the Elad organization, which promotes Jewish settlement in the city's eastern part. As mayor, one of his first acts was to resume the construction of 230 apartments for Jews in Abu Dis (Kidmat Zion). He also issued demolition orders for dozens of illegal buildings in Silwan that house hundreds of Palestinian residents.

In the meantime, due in part to American pressure, the municipality has frozen the plan to demolish the buildings in the area it calls Gan Hamelekh (David's Garden). "The mayor's approach to upholding and enforcing the law has nothing to do with city residents' national identity," city hall said in a statement two days ago. "He intends to continue upholding the law in the west and east of the city without bias. The enforcement policy in the Gan Hamelekh area was examined by the courts, which found nothing wrong."

The hand of God?

In an article published on the Arutz Sheva Web site, Matti Dan, chairman of the Ateret Cohanim organization, was quoted as saying, "God promised Jerusalem to us. Our generation is responsible for fulfilling the victory of the Six-Day War and strengthening settlement in Jerusalem."

The article tells of 43 sites that Dan and his friends have "redeemed" from Palestinians in the Old City's Muslim and Christian quarters. About a decade ago, Ateret Cohanim began expanding its activity outside the Old City walls, by taking over abandoned properties - both buildings and land - that belonged to Jews before 1948. Thus Jews settled in Silwan, the Mount of Olives (Beit Orot), Sheikh Jarra (Shimon Hatzadik), Ras al-Amud (Ma'aleh Zeitim), Abu Dis and A-Tur. According to data from the Ir Amim organization for an equitable and stable Jerusalem, about 2,500 Israelis now live in the holy basin and the Old City (not including the Jewish Quarter), about 400 of them in the City of David and a similar number in Ras al-Amud

"The hand of God is clearly visible here," Dan boasted. "The Saudis and the Europeans are investing millions in East Jerusalem in order to stop us, and we're standing up to them alone." The same article quotes Ateret Cohanim sources as saying that, "There is a consensus about Jerusalem ... also in the highest places, even if this is somewhat obscured. We receive full backing that isn't reported in the newspapers. Even those who say otherwise in the media open their doors to us when it's about building Jerusalem."

City Engineer Uri Sheetrit first gave the order to demolish the illegal buildings in Silwan in 2004, explaining that the reasons had nothing to do with urban planning. "Jerusalem's beginnings lie in the City of David tel. These remnants have much international and national value and give the city its standing as one of the world's most important cities," he said. "Emek Hamelekh - together with the City of David tel - constitutes a complete archaeological unit." The experience of recent years shows that Jews will settle in places that Palestinians have been forced to leave.

These kinds of declarations infuriate attorney Daniel Seidemann of Ir Amim. In a recent opinion, he wrote that the planning and building laws have become the main means for reducing Palestinian living space in East Jerusalem: Since 1967, Israel has appropriated 35 percent of the land in East Jerusalem in order to build 50,000 apartments for Jews; at the same time, not a single new neighborhood has been built for the Palestinians, despite the fact that their population in East Jerusalem has nearly quadrupled. During all those years, only 600 apartments were built with government support in the existing Palestinian neighborhoods. The Palestinians' natural growth rate in the city means that 1,500 new apartments are needed every year.

According to Seidemann, most of the lands still in Palestinian possession cannot be built upon due to bureaucratic delays heaped on by Israel. The construction potential within the Palestinian neighborhoods has been practically exhausted. Even Palestinians who live in an area for which there is an approved master plan end up so frustrated by the legal, economic and bureaucratic obstacles that they eventually resort to the risk of building without a license. East Jerusalem is the only place in Israel where a unit from the Interior Ministry, rather than the local authority, operates for the purpose of enforcing building laws (vis-a-vis the Palestinians, that is). Thus, even when the municipality freezes the house demolitions, they are still carried out by order of the Interior Ministry.

Archaeological takeover

In addition to staking their claim in the residential neighborhoods in and around the Old City, the organizations Elad and Ateret Cohanim have begun taking over the numerous archaeological sites scattered throughout the area. The City of David national park lies south of the Old City. "Today, 70 percent of the hill in the City of David is in Jewish hands, and the idea is to acquire buildings on the Mount Zion hill next to it, in order to create a continuum with the Jewish Quarter," Elad founder Barry said in a recent interview.

In 1998, the Environmental Protection Ministry ordered the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to place the park's management in the hands of Elad, which argued that it had acquired a majority of the lands there. The order was issued in defiance of protest from the Antiquities Authority, which was upset about the idea of a sensitive archaeological site being run by a politically motivated organization. To this day, it is not clear why the ministry decided to act as it did. Dalia Itzik, who was the environment minister at the time, said this week that she does not recall the matter. The INPA says its standard practice is to transfer sites located on private lands to the landowners' management. However, last year, then-construction and housing minister Ze'ev Boim wrote that the territory of the park given to Elad is not owned by it, but instead belongs to the state and the Jewish National Fund.

At the end of 2000, the national park was returned to the INPA's jurisdiction. The state prosecutor informed the Supreme Court that it had not been proper to grant authorization to Elad, and so it was annulled. But in 2002, the INPA once again transferred most of the park's assets to the control of Elad, including the Herodian tunnel beneath the Armon Hanatziv ridge and the visitors' center in Ya'ar Hashalom (the Peace Forest). The Authority could not provide an explanation for this decision.

The registrar of nonprofit organizations says the symbiotic relationship between Elad and the INPA is also evident in the fact that Elad's Evyatar Cohen, the director of the visitors' center, is also the director of the INPA's Jerusalem district. An INPA spokeswoman responded that Cohen first went through a "cooling-off" period after his activity in the Elad organization. The symbols of both bodies also appeared not long ago on a sign announcing the construction of a new information center on the Mount of Olives, outside the bounds of the national park. Following an inquiry from Peace Now, the INPA's symbol was removed.

Archaeologists opposed to Elad's activity say the organization's guided tours of the site, given to many Israel Defense Forces soldiers, emphasize the place's Jewish history. Prof. Benjamin Z. Kedar, chairman of the board of the Antiquities Authority, recently confirmed that Elad is "an organization with a declared ideological agenda, which presents the history of the City of David in a biased way." In response, the organization said that most visitors are accompanied by its guides and that any guides who expressed themselves politically were dealt with severely.

According to the High Court petition recently filed by Peace Now, at least, Elad is building a shopping center and events hall within the bounds of the park, under cover of the archaeological excavations in the area of the park known as Henyon Givati. In the wake of the petition, the court has ordered all work on the site suspended, apart from the excavations.

Elad claims that "Henyon Givati is a private area and the rights to it are registered in the land registry." In response to a request from Meretz city council member Pepe Alalo, Yossi Havilio, the Jerusalem municipality's legal counsel, said this week that he has asked the official in charge of municipal assets to confirm whether city hall, which leased the lot for 30 years (until 2006), had indeed transferred the rights elsewhere and why.

Bleak reality

This week, in a small room in the local community center, Jawad met with several Israeli archaeologists who offer tourists with guided tours meant to exposed them to the bleak reality in Jerusalem. They composed an open letter to Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor, who turned down their request that she issue an injunction against a continuation of the "development works" in the neighborhood, which they believe are designed to improve the lives of the Jewish residents. She determined that it would be unsafe to stop the work, now that it is under way.

"Imagine how you would feel," they wrote the justice, "if one day you were to fall under the power of a group of new residents, whose civil status is higher than your own and that of your family, and who enjoy heavyweight economic backing, including that of the municipal authorities, and have guards stationed outside their homes day and night who roam the streets, armed, and frighten your children."


The Republic of Elad

Meron Rapoport

On a Sunday, during the intermediate days of Pesach, Jerusalem was
quite empty. Maybe the sudden rain kept the tourists away. In the
city center, next to the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall, one could easily
find a parking space, which is usually just about impossible. But to
the east, in Silwan, the place was crowded with hikers.

To be more precise, not in all of Silwan. The crowds were present
only in the first few meters of the road that descends from Dung Gate
in the direction of Silwan, a Palestinian village that was annexed to
Jerusalem in 1967 and has become a poor neighborhood of 40,000
people, right next to the southern wall of the Old City.

The thousands of hikers exited from Dung Gate, marched up to the
recently built magnificent gate bearing the words `City of David,`
entered and, probably without being aware of it, joined the battle
for Jerusalem.

The battle for Jerusalem, or in effect the battle over the
Judaization of the city, has been waged with ups and downs since East
Jerusalem was annexed to Israel. Recently, it has reached a higher
plane. One aspect of it is apparent and understood by everyone: the
battle over assets. During the past three weeks, the association
Elad, through legal acquisition, as it claims, or through violent
invasion, according to the Palestinians, has taken over about 15
apartments in three different buildings, and another four houses in
two Palestinian neighborhoods, Silwan and A-Tur. In A-Tur, the entry
of the settlers ended in clashes with the local residents, and the
murder of a Palestinian who was suspected of selling assets to Jews.
The first casualty in a renewed battle for the city.

But this battle for Jerusalem has another, less known side: the
battle for public opinion. In recent weeks, a public relations
campaign has been waged on Internet sites, over the radio and on
television, calling on Israeli citizens to come and visit `ancient
Jerusalem.` Ostensibly, this is an advertising campaign to encourage
tourists to come and visit the national park in the City of David,
with the impressive antiquities found there, and the Shiloah Tunnel.
In fact, this is a kind of advertising campaign for Elad, which
operates the national park according to an agreement with the Israel
Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, and charges an entry
fee of NIS 23. This is the same association that seized the assets in
East Jerusalem and - in the belief of Palestinian residents - is
about to enter additional homes in Silwan immediately after Pesach.

Story of a man

Elad is to a great extent the story of one man. David Beeri, who is
known to everyone as Davideleh, who first worked in Ateret Cohanim
and then, in the early 1980s, cast his eye on Silwan. The City of
David is not populated, he told his wife Michal (according to her
testimony, which can be found in the Elad archive) - we have to do
something. Beeri discovered that some of the village land belonged to
Jewish institutions before the 1948 War of Independence. He turned to
the Jewish National Fund, asking it to authorize him to remove the
Palestinian residents from that land. The JNF agreed. And Elad took
over other assets by means of a very dubious implementation of the
Absentee Property Law. The attorney general at the time, Meir
Shamgar, instructed that this law not be used in East Jerusalem as a
main instrument for taking control of assets.

Michal Beeri tells - in the same conversation that is documented in
the archive - about one of those shady tricks. Beeri had his eye on
the home of the Abbasi family, which is located near the Shiloah
Pool. He thought it might be possible to declare it an absentee
property, and then to confiscate it and to transfer it to the state.

`Davideleh took a tour guide`s card from his friend, placed his photo
on it, put on the hat and the tag, and for a long time would take
imaginary tourists for tours,` said Beeri. `Slowly but surely he
became friendly with Abbasi. At some stage Abbasi began to invite
him, and that was what he [Davideleh - M.R.] wanted.`

The trick succeeded. In the early 1990s, the Custodian of Absentee
Property declared the Abbasi home absentee property, perhaps also
relying on information he received from Elad. The asset was
transferred to Elad, and Abbasi found Davideleh, the imaginary tour
guide and imaginary friend, settling in his house while he, Abbasi,
was evicted.

Later on, when the issue blew up, it turned out in the Klugman
Committee (a committee headed by the then-director general of the
Ministry of Justice) that the attorneys of Elad and of Ateret Cohanim
were the ones who had brought the custodian the declarations
testifying to the fact that certain assets were absentee property -
and that some of the declarations were false. In the discussion of a
petition to the High Court of Justice, three justices decided that
the activities of the custodian in the matter of the Abbasi home
`were tainted by extreme lack of good faith.`

That was the beginning. Later on, Elad received several more assets
in Silwan through the Custodian for Absentee Property. There are
still legal disputes regarding some of them. Additional assets were
acquired over the years from their Palestinian owners, in return for
full payment. The association does the construction by itself,
sometimes even without a permit. The Jerusalem Municipality is aware
of at least two criminal indictments for illegal construction that
were filed against the association; two of them ended up somehow in
the conviction of a Palestinian mediator.

An administrative demolition order was carried out against another of
the association`s buildings, and the expansion of a visitors` center
was carried out without a permit. But all these offences did not
prevent the Nature and National Parks Protection Authority from
transferring control over the administration of the antiquities site
in the City of David to the association. An area of 24 dunams, many
times the size of everything that Elad has managed to take over on
its own. Now Elad has become the real master of the area. Simply put,
the government gave a private association, with a clear political
bent, control over one of the most sensitive sites in Israel, if not
in the entire Middle East.

It costs

Elad did in fact take over the area. The area was cleaned and
developed, a visitors` center was built, and the visitors began to
return. Not free of charge. In order to walk through the Shiloah
Tunnel, visitors today must pay NIS 23, which are transferred to
Elad`s coffers. The guided tours are also conducted almost solely by
Elad guides. The spirit of the tours reflects their worldview. `The
people from the NNPPA are only advisers, the people from the
visitors` center run the show,` says someone who worked in the NNPPA.
`The focus of the tours is on the Temple, on King David. At the end
of the tour, the guides tell how they redeemed the neighborhood, how
Davideleh lives there alone. Stories of heroism.`

The main feature of the compound is the huge archaeological dig. The
Antiquities Authority digs, Elad pays, also with the help of the
government. The findings are definitely impressive. On the slope of
the hill, stairs from the Second Temple period were found; in another
place, ancient seals (bullae) from the beginning of the First Temple
period. Ayelet Mazar, who is digging independently, claims that she
has found vestiges of David`s palace. Most of the archaeologists in
Israel are doubtful about this finding, but there is no question that
it suits the spirit of Elad: to prove that King David walked in this
very place. All the other periods don`t really interest them. In a
list of dates that appears on the City of David Web site, the time
line jumps from the year 70 CE, the destruction of the Second Temple,
to 1882, the beginning of immigration to the Land of Israel in modern
times. For Elad, during the 1,800 years that passed between these
dates, nothing happened on this hill.

Elad tried to market its ideas with its most recent campaign. This is
not a matter of a desire for income. Elad lost almost NIS 1 million
on the visitors` center in 2004. This is something else: `It was
important to them that the names `City of David` and `Mount of
Olives` enter people`s awareness, and replace the names `Silwan` or
`Ras al Amud,` says one person who was involved in the campaign.
Another such person says that the goal was much more political. `The
City of David, with its amazing findings, is 200 meters from the Old
City,` says the man, who is not suspected of being overly fond of the
settlers. `They want the people of Israel to become accustomed to the
idea that the City of David is among the places that cannot be given
up, even in the context of a final status agreement.`

In this context, one can understand Elad`s latest moves. These moves
are meant to reinforce its control in Silwan, and to start building
in new Palestinian neighborhoods surrounding the Old City, such as
A-Tur, which is located on the Mt. of Olives and overlooks the Temple
Mount. Thus 30 members of the Gozlan family found themselves outside
their compound in Silwan. The father of the family, Haj Gozlan, saved
Jews from a pogrom in 1920. He even received a letter of appreciation
for his act. `In West Jerusalem they plant an avenue named after such
a person,` says attorney Danny Seidman of the Ir Amim association,
who represented the family. In East Jerusalem, three weeks ago they
evacuated Gozlan`s descendants from the four houses in which they
lived, near the City of David compound.

The family asked to stay

The legal story is complicated, and went on for years, but the bottom
line is that the High Court of Justice ruled seven years ago that the
land belongs to the JNF. The family asked to remain in the area as
protected residents. The JNF refused. Now it has become clear why.
The Israel Lands Administration, which received the area from the JNF
about three years ago, told Haaretz that even before it transferred
the land to the ILA, the JNF signed a protected tenant agreement with
Elad, and therefore Elad can enter the area without going through the
tender process. Seidman says that there is a question about the
legality of the move, since even the JNF cannot transfer its assets
to whomever it pleases, without a tender, in addition to the fact
that during the legal proceedings the JNF did not mention that it had
signed a protected residency agreement with Elad. `They, from Elad,
who didn`t live here for a single day, are protected residents,` says
Ahmed Gozlan. `And we, who have been living here since 1966, are not
considered protected residents? Is that logical?` The JNF did not
respond to the claims `because of the Pesach holiday.`

The feeling among the Palestinians is that Elad is the real ruler in
Silwan. There is some truth to this. A few months ago, tractors began
work on a plot of land at the bottom of the hill, near the Gihon
Spring square. The Palestinian landowners rushed to the place, and
managed to stop the work, partly by force and partly with the help of
a stop-work court injunction. The Jerusalem Municipality said later
that the area had been declared expropriated for public needs, but
the work itself was not carried out by the municipality, but by a
contractor working on the construction of a parking lot for the
Ministry of Transportation and for Elad.

The attorneys of the landowners claim that the expropriation
procedure was not carried out, but in any case, they ask, how is it
that a private group like Elad is carrying out work on an area that
even according to the municipality does not belong to it? Fahri
Abu-Diab, the chair of the neighborhood committee of nearby Al Bustan
- a neighborhood all of whose 90 houses the municipality threatened
to demolish last year - says that he was recently invited to a
discussion in city hall about the future of the neighborhood,
together with senior city officials, and with the `Jewish mukhtar` of
the City of David. Abu-Diab refused to come. What connection is there
between the people from Elad and the future of my houses, he asked.

In East Jerusalem they claim that even the police are on the side of
the settlers. This perception is reinforced by the manner in which
the buildings in A-Tur have been seized. What is involved are two
buildings and a sing le apartment in an adjacent third building. Elad
claims that it acquired them legally. The Palestinian residents claim
that this is squatting.

Attorney Menahem Blum, who represents the Abu al-Hawa family, says
that two brothers from the family, Mohammed and Khalil, sold a
building that was not registered in their name. Mohammed Abu al-Hawa
was murdered last week in Jericho. His brother Khalil has fled to

But the police, says attorney Blum, did not try to clarify these
details. They burst into the building together with the settlers the
day after the elections. `I have experience with evictions in East
Jerusalem,` says Blum. `There is no chance that the police will ever
evict a tenant for you. You have to take a bailiff`s contractor,
which costs you at least NIS 100,000. In any case, the police cannot
operate without a file in the bailiff`s office. I don`t know about
the opening of any such file.`

Rafi Strauss, a judge in the Jerusalem Magistrate`s Court, came to a
conclusion similar to Blum`s regarding the apartment the settlers
entered in A-Tur. The entry, a day before Seder night, was carried
out by force. Policemen accompanied by private guards of Elad evicted
the Hijazi family from an apartment it was renting. The dispute
reached the courts, and the police really did not succeed in
convincing Judge Strauss. `The behavior of the respondent [the
Jerusalem police - M.R.] does not accord with the existence of the
basic condition for police intervention in a civil dispute,` wrote
Strauss, and instructed the police to evict the settlers from the
apartment that they had broken into by force, under protection of the
police and the security guards. The matter of the security guards is
interesting in itself. A committee established by former housing
minister Isaac Herzog recommended that the guarding of the settlers
in East Jerusalem, which cost NIS 40 million annually, and is funded
by the ministry, be transferred to the police. The associations were
not happy. `It`s convenient for them with the private firms,` says
someone who was involved in the work of the committee. `The security
guards transport the children to school. No police force will do
that.` The recommendation of the committee is stuck in the Justice
Ministry at the moment.

Plenty of money

There is no question about the fact that Elad has money. They paid at
least $925,000 for the building of the Abu al-Hawa family alone. And
that is only one of two buildings they acquired. Advertising people
estimate that the City of David campaign, which included television
commercials, also cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Palestinians
in Silwan tell of many attempts to buy, for cash, which have greatly
intensified over the past year. Such sums are even greater than
Elad`s very tidy budget, which in 2004 was NIS 11.5 million. Elad
boasts of its tremendous fund-raising, which in 2004 netted NIS 8.5
million - NIS 1.5 million from government sources and the rest from
the revenues from the national park.

But for Elad`s projects, even such a sum is insufficient. About two
months ago, when a new park was dedicated at the visitors` center,
the ceremony was attended by Lev Leviev and Chelsea owner Roman
Abramovich, accompanied by David Beeri and Natan Sharansky. Leviev`s
office said that he was a `guest` at the event, and is not a
contributor to the association. It was impossible to get a response
from Abramovich. Does the presence of the two billionaire friends
hint at another, new channel for donations? Perhaps.

The map of the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem leaves no room for
doubt. The Shepherd Hotel near Mt. Scopus, the hotels at the Jaffa
Gate, two houses in Abu Dis, a new neighborhood in Jabal Mukhaber -
these are only part of the `conquests` of the settlers in the past
year or two. Adi Mintz, a member of the Elad administration, told
Haaretz immediately after taking over the assets in A-Tur and Silwan
about three weeks ago that this was a `significant achievement.` The
goal of Elad is clear, says Mintz: `To get a foothold in East
Jerusalem and to create an irreversible situation in the holy basin
around the Old City.`

Seidman, as usual, was more apocalyptic. `The battle for the holy
basin is at its height,` he says. `There is an unholy alliance here
between the settlers and the fundamentalist Christians who support
it, who want Jerusalem to turn into the arena of Armageddon. They
want this battle to turn our conflict from a national to a religious
one. That is the thing that should concern us.`

Asset No. 36

A document prepared by architect Gideon Harlap for the settlers`
associations in the early 1990s may indicate that Seidman is right.
Harlap mapped the Jewish and state-owned assets for the settlers;
these are assets that can be used to build new Jewish neighborhoods.
Alongside each asset, Harlap notes the type of ownership and the
number of housing units that can be built on it. There are several
dozen assets listed there. Asset No. 36 is especially interesting.
Harlap writes that the waqf (the Muslim religious trust) wanted to
own this asset, but the British Mandatory government refused to grant
it to them. The name of the asset is `the Temple Mount.` The space
for the number of housing units on the Temple Mount is empty. For the
time being.

Elad refused to answer the detailed questions sent to them. `People
at Haaretz are trying, and not for the first time, to attack the City
of David and those working to develop it, for ideological-political
reasons,` they wrote in the reply sent to the newspaper. `The Elad
association has been working for 20 years to promote the development
and flourishing of the historical City of David, a site of national
importance and a top-priority, international issue. The association
initiates and funds archaeological digs, and invests in audio-visual
presentations, development of infrastructure and widespread
advertising. These resources are paid for by donations alone.... The
Elad association operates to strengthen the link of the Jewish people
to Jerusalem, and for the continuation of the return of the Jewish
people to visit and live in the City of David.... In the past decade,
the City of David has constituted a unique model, which combines old
and new, Jews and Arabs, who conduct a cooperative fabric of life
characterized by mutual respect, personal and economic ties and
mutual assistance.`