Last updated: 17 January, 2013

Israel advances east Jerusalem military college plan

An Israeli committee has advanced a controversial plan to build a military college on the Mount of Olives in annexed east Jerusalem, an Israeli non-governmental group said on Thursday.

“The local committee recommended approving the plan,” said Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim, which supports the “equitable” sharing of Jerusalem.

“Right now it’s in the process of gathering the objections. The local committee recommends and then the actual decision is taken by the district committee,” he told AFP.

“I would guess that within a few weeks, the objections will be heard by the district committee and it would make the decision to approve,” he added.

“Practically speaking, that would be the final stage, and within a few months they could start to issue the tenders.”

Israel’s interior ministry has already approved construction of the military academy, which will reportedly cover 42,000 square metres.

Israel captured the eastern half of the city during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised internationally, but the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as capital of their future state.

They criticise Israeli construction in east Jerusalem, along with the international community, and leftwing members of the city’s municipal council have called the academy plan “a provocation.”

Several important churches are located on the Mount of Olives, which holds religious significance for Christians, who believe Jesus was arrested there before his crucifixion.

The Mount of Olives also holds religious significance for Jews, who believe the Messiah will arrive at the site.