King's Garden

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See King's Schools for the school in Seattle, United States, Fort Ticonderoga for the garden in New York State, and for the park in Stockholm, Sweden, see Kungsträdgården.

The Garden of the King (Hebrew: גן המלך‎, Gan Hamelekh, Arabic: البستانal-Bustan) is a controversial proposed development project in Jerusalem in the Kidron Valley to the south of the Temple Mount at the edge of the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan. The land is traditionally considered as once part of the royal gardens of the Israelite kings.[1] The area was occupied by Israel in 1967 after being a part of the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank from 1948 through 1967.

The proposed development would include a watercourse flowing south from the Gihon Spring through a landscaped park, housing, and restaurants and shops for tourists.[2]

According to the municipal government, the area proposed for development is classified as an "open recreational space," but is actually the site of "dozens of structures (that) have been erected without permits."[2][3] Old photographs of the Garden of the King show the proposed park as terraced farmland below the village of Silwan.[4]

Controversy[edit]

According to the Jerusalem municipality, in 1967 there were no more than four buildings, but now it is a ghetto with 120 families living in sub-standard housing erected without permits on public parkland.[2] The city plan will accommodate all of the families in new housing to be constructed along the edges of the park.[2][3]

Residents of the houses slated for demolition acknowledge that their neighborhood is in a state of disrepair, but demand that the housing be improved, not demolished.[3] They have demanded legal permits for their existing, unauthorized homes and vowed that "We’ll never leave our homes."[5] According to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, "No one in the neighborhood denies that the homes were built illegally," but residents assert that they were forced to build illegally on the open land because the city refused to give building permits.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesistical Literature, John McClintock, Harper and Brothers, 1889, p. 745.
  2. ^ a b c d [1] The King's Garden (Gan Hamelech, Al Bustan) - Development Plan, 02/03/2010, Jerusalem City Hall website.
  3. ^ a b c [2] Gan Hamelech residents wary of Barkat’s redevelopment plan, Abe Selig, Feb. 16, 2010, Jerusalem Post.
  4. ^ "King's Garden and village," photographed by James Graham can be found on pp. 31, 35 of Picturing Jerusalem; James Graham and Mendel Diness, Photographers, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2007.
  5. ^ "Gan Hamelech residents vow never to leave their homes", Abe Selig, March 4, 2010, The Jerusalem Post.
  6. ^ "Silwan residents unimpressed by 'king who walked around 3,000 years ago'", Nir Hasson, June 25, 2010, Haaretz.