Garden of the King
The Garden of the King (Arabic: Al Bustan) is a controversial proposed development project in Jerusalem in the Kidron Valley
Kidron Valley
The Kidron Valley is the valley on the eastern side of The Old City of Jerusalem which features significantly in the Bible...

 to the south of the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

 at the edge of the Arab neighborhood of Silwan
Silwan or Wadi Hilweh is a predominantly Palestinian village adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem. In recent years a small Jewish minority of 40 families has settled in the area. The village is located in East Jerusalem, an area occupied by Jordan from 1948 until the 1967 Six-day War and by Israel...

. The land is traditionally considered as once part of the royal gardens of the Israelite kings. The area was occupied by Israel in 1967 after being a part of the West Bank under Jordanian rule from 1948 onwards.

The proposed development would include a watercourse flowing south from the Gihon Spring
Gihon Spring
The Gihon Spring was the main source of water for the City of David, the original site of Jerusalem. One of the world's major intermittent springs - and a reliable water source that made human settlement possible in ancient Jerusalem - the spring was not only used for drinking water, but also...

 through a landscaped park, housing, and restaurants and shops for tourists.

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." Old photographs of the Garden of the King show the proposed park as terraced farmland below the village of Silwan.


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

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. They have demanded legal permits for their existing, unauthorized homes and vowed that "We’ll never leave our homes." According to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

, "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.
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