In 2003, a group of eight Jews moved to a compound of three dilapidated homes surrounded by graves in the Sephardi section of the Mount of Olives cemetery. According to the General Burial Society of Jerusalem, which legally owned the site, drug users had taken over the compound, which had become a dumping site for construction debris and a chop shop for stolen cars. Other Jewish property in the area was a gas station a few hundred meters from Ma'aleh Hazeitim and several other buildings. The burial society plot had been acquired in the mid-19th century by philanthropists Moshe Wittenberg and Nissan Bak, trustees for kollels affiliated with the Chabad and Wollin hassidim. Land on the outskirts of the Mount of Olives was designated as part of the existing Jewish cemetery, but the Turks did not permit the Jews to bury their dead there. Meanwhile, the kollels leased the land to an Arab farmer who grew the wheat for Passover matza. In 1923, when the British changed the land ownership laws, the land was formally transferred to the Wollin and Chabad kollels. Irving Moskowitz, an American businessman and philanthropist purchased the land in 1990. 
After the Arab Israeli war of 1948, the land was administered by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property, an organization established to handle property owned by Jews in the Jordanian controlled West Bank.
In September 1997, plans for the construction of new Jewish homes on the land provoked an international outcry. Despite American pressure to halt building in the area, the plan was backed by Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert.
In May 2011, two demonstrations were held by the Solidarity movement, to protest Jewish housing activity in Ras el-Amud. The first took place during the dedication ceremony of Ma'ale HaZeitim. The ceremony was attended by numerous officials, including members of Knesset, government ministers, and the mayor of Jerusalem,. At the second demonstration police arrested six protesters after fighting broke out between protesters and security guards. Protesters claimed that the guards had attacked them and the police had broken a protester's hand. The police claimed that the protestors attempted to break into homes belonging to Jewish residents.
- 'Resurrecting the dead on the Mount', Haaretz
- MELANIE LIDMAN. 60 east J’lem Jewish homes to be dedicated. 5.23.2011
- Building begins on new Jewish homes in Ras al-Amud, Haaretz
Kollel/Beit Midrash Zichron Moshe in Maaleh Hazeitim- www.zichronmoshe.org