In the wake of last week’s decision by the Jerusalem Regional Committee to promote the establishment of a new chareidi neighborhood on the site of the former Atarot airport, Israeli transport minister Merav Michaeli is attempting to promote a different idea. Michaeli suggests renovating the airport and using it as an entrance point both to Jerusalem and the PA – the only place which could be used jointly both by Jews and Palestinians.

It is unclear whether Michaeli is touting the move due to strong US criticism of the establishment of a new neighborhood there and in order to maintain Israeli control of the disused airport or whether she simply wishes to block the establishment of another Jewish neighborhood adjacent to Ramallah.

Michaeli recently established a committee to locate places which could serve as civilian airfields in Israel and the committee asked attorney Shlomi Heisler, the director of the civilian planning authority, to defer the discussion on authorizing the new neighborhood until other alternatives including reestablishing the airport have been assessed.

Michaeli herself claims that she does not see the airport in the same light as Jewish construction over the Green Line since it can be used as a bargaining chip with the Palestinians.... Read More: