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Israel approves Jewish yeshiva in heart of East Jerusalem

Aug. 28, 2014 4:42 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 29, 2014 11:09 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's Jerusalem municipality has approved plans to build a Jewish religious school in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinian activists and Israeli media said.

The Ohr Somayach yeshiva will occupy a nine-story building in the middle of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, Haaretz reported.

The plan was reportedly approved six months ago by Jerusalem's Municipal Planning and Building Committee and given the go ahead on Wednesday.

A Ma'an reporter said the building will occupy 1,900 square meters and have three underground floors.

The religious school will be located between the al-Hayat Medical Center and the Nasif gas station.

Activist and Sheikh Jarrah resident Salih Diab told Ma'an that the building of a Jewish religious school, and the implementation of evacuation orders against Palestinian residents, will turn Sheikh Jarrah into a "Jewish neighborhood."

The land was reportedly confiscated in the 1980s under Israel's Absentee Property Law of 1950, which had been used as a tool to annex Palestinian land.

A 2013 report prepared by the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem said that the law has been used extensively in Jerusalem to confiscate property and land owned by West Bank Palestinians, who were technically considered "absentee" after Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem.

In March, Jewish settlers began moving into a property in the commercial heart of occupied East Jerusalem after radical settler group Ateret Cohanim bought part of a building from Israel's Bezeq telecoms company.

Located on the corner of Salah al-Din and Sultan Suleiman in the busy center of East Jerusalem just outside the Old City walls, the property is currently being converted into a Jewish seminary.

Ateret Cohanim actively works to settle as many Jews as possible in densely populated Palestinian areas in and around the Old City.

East Jerusalem was militarily occupied by Israel in 1967, and was later annexed in a move considered illegal by the international community.

Around 200,000 Jewish settlers currently live in a Jewish-only settlements that have been built between and around Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, part of the 550,000 Jewish settlers that have moved into the occupied Palestinian territories.
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