4.The city of antiquity, hoarding as the mean; The city of hoarding, antiquity as the mean?

This writing questions the importance of heritage preservation in urban planning, especially in an antiquity intensive city, Jerusalem. It is also intriguing to understand how the modern Israeli government adopted a usual colonial heritage planning strategy and reinterpreted it to exercise the authority of demographic control. We will also see how the authority played multiple roles in various sectors, while these roles still cooperate with one another to foster the construction of the national park. In the case of Mount Scopus Slopes National Park, these roles include the Jerusalem Municipality, the Jerusalem National Parks Authority and the Jerusalem Antiquities Authority.

There is no doubt that Jerusalem is a city of historical antiquities. These antiquities are not solely about Jewish culture or Israel but also the larger area of Palestine. Both William McLean and Patrick Geddes knew this is a significant value of Jerusalem. That is why as a colonial city engineer representing the British Empire, McLean (Roberts 2013, 12) marked the preservation of the Old Jerusalem city as the priority of urban planning. He proposed a clear division between the old and new city. The new centre of administration and commerce is not placed inside the old city but near it. To mark the clear boundary, he proposed to use greenbelts to separate the new and old (Roberts 2013, 12). This became the foundation for the separation between East and West Jerusalem. For Patrick Geddes, although following Mclean’s direction of heritage preservation, also envisioned a certain urban expansion of the Eastern Jerusalem towards Mount Scopus instead of concentrating the development in the Western and keeping the Eastern Jerusalem untouched as a greenbelt. (Efrat and Noble 1988, 393). This greenbelt is a very crucial urban move that precedes the national park constructions in the Jerusalem Master Plan 2000 and built a foundation for the green urban fabric.

Local Outline Plan Jerusalem 2000 – Appendix 3: Open Spaces and Tourism
Jerusalem map demonstrating the zoning by greenbelts.(source:Local Outline Plan Jerusalem 2000 – Appendix 3: Open Spaces and Tourism)

It is apparent that the Jerusalem Master Plan 2000 has picked up on this green urban fabric extension, also with the narrative of heritage preservation. However, the reason behind the expansion is questionable. According to the Local Outline Plan of Jerusalem Master Plan 2000, the plan emphasizes on planting open spaces as the central foundation of urban expansion, any other elements such as housings, commerce and tourism should adjust themselves to this foundation (Jerusalem Planning Administration, City Engineer & City Planning Department 2004,13). This characteristic of open space planning is clearly a continuation of the original greenbelt pattern, especially for Eastern Jerusalem.

The most valuable antiquity site in Jerusalem, the Old City, was already protected by a distinctive greenbelt by McLean’s outline plan nearly 100 years ago, the question here is, what is the intention behind the expansion of the preserved zone to Mount Scopus now? Also, antiquities are everywhere in Jerusalem, is there any standard for the Israeli government to determine where to preserve according to the Jerusalem Master Plan?

The original outline of Jerusalem Master Plan 2000 (Jerusalem Planning Administration, City Engineer & City Planning Department 2004, 39) clearly stated that the archaeology and historic value of Jerusalem must be expressed by enabling preservation and rehabilitation of heritage sites. It also mentioned that these sites are not limited to the old city but the area outside of the wall. These wordings indicate the Jewish ambition to expand the preservation site outside of the city wall. This forms a clear narrative for the planning of the Mount Scopus Slopes National Park as a mean of preserving antiquities. For the preparation of executing the national park plan, initiated by the Jerusalem National Parks Authority, the Israeli Antiquity Authority was requested to start an archaeological survey of Mount Scopus. The result indicates that a concentration of burial caves and agricultural ceramic fragments, which could be dated back to the Second Temple Period, were discovered (Anna Eirikh-Rose 2010,639). These findings created the fundamental basis for the execution of Mount Scopus National Parks.

Antiquity map of the Mount Scopus area
Antiquity map of the Mount Scopus area showing how the tunnel cut throughs (source: The Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem. Final Approval for Israeli Landfill in East Jerusalem. 2016)

The whole narrative by the government seems to be convincing as a reason to keep the heritage zone untouched. However, some other evidence uncovered the contradictory in the government’s explanation. According to an NGO Emek Shaveh (2013), similar antiquities of burial caves and agricultural heritage were found everywhere in Jerusalem, even in the Western side. However, all those findings did not stop the construction of the new Western Jerusalem. A standard of what to preserve and what not to is obviously missing which makes it a tool for the government to justify land hoarding. Another piece of evidence is that a tunnel which cuts through Mount Scopus had been built before the start of the Mount Scopus Slopes National Park plan (refer to the above image). Multiple important archaeological findings such as vessels used by priests, were discovered (Amit, Seligman, & Zilberbod 2000, 86). These important findings did not stop the construction of the tunnel. It is very suspicious how the Israeli government allowed infrastructural construction, but not Palestinian residence on the same piece of land with the basis of archaeological preservation. These examples show that the government has no measurable standard on antiquity preservation. At the same time, the Jerusalem Antiquities Authority, as a part of the government, could report findings at the right time to justify any land hoarding by the reason of heritage preservation. On the other hand, being a national organisation, the Jerusalem National Parks Authority can execute national parks constructions without going through unnecessary procedures of the Jerusalem local government.

We can easily observe how the Israeli government made use of the precedence of Jerusalem greenbelt, antiquity, and national park to create a synergy as a strong tool of land hoarding and segmentation. This also explains why heritage preservation was combined with the formation of national parks and the reason for the Jerusalem National Parks Authority to act as the initiator. The strategy is all about how the authority plays multiple roles in various fields to consolidate a justified act.



Jerusalem Planning Administration, City Engineer & City Planning Department. Local Outline Plan Jerusalem 2000-Report No. 4 The Proposed Plan and the Main Planning PoliciesPrepared for Jerusalem Municipality. Jerusalem: Jerusalem Municipality, 2004.

Roberts, Nicholas.  Dividing Jerusalem: British Urban Planning in the Holy City in Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 42, No. 4 (Summer 2013), 7-26. California: University of California Press, 2013.

Efrat, Elisha, and Allen G. Noble. “Planning Jerusalem in Geographical Review Vol. 78, No. 4 (Oct., 1988), pp. 387-404. Oxfordshire: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 1988.

Rose, Anna. Jerusalem, the Slopes of Mount Scopus, Survey: Final Report. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority. 2010.

D. Amit, J. Seligman, & I. Zilberbod, “Jerusalem, Mount Scopus (East),” Hadashot Arkheologiyot 111 (2000),66-88. 2000.

Emek Shaveh. Where Are the Antiquities? National Parks between the Old City of Jerusalem And Area E1. Jerusalem: Emek Shaveh. 2013. retrieved from https://emekshaveh.org/en/nationalparks/





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