Ronen Medzini
April 28, 2010 - 12:00am,7340,L-3882229,00.html

Residents of Silwan's al-Bustan neighborhood in east Jerusalem presented an alternative plan to regulate illegal construction, in an attempt to thwart the razing of their houses.

The alternative plan, unveiled during a Wednesday press conference, has already passed all technical requirements and was issued a zoning file at the municipality three weeks ago.

This is the second time al-Bustan residents present their alternative plan – the first being thwarted in the regional planning and construction committee. Since then, they have been living with the fear of having their houses demolished.

"It is an alternative to the Jerusalem municipality's demolition plan – a plan that combines our needs with the municipality's demands. It is a light at the end of the tunnel for us," al-Bustan resident Farhi abu Dihab told Ynet.

"It is a professional, orderly plan that can be accepted by everyone and finally bring an end to this dispute. We have given up on land around the houses so that the municipality can use them to build other houses or for other purposes," he added.

Attorney Sami Arsheed, who represents the neighborhood residents, explained that "it is actually a service the authorities should have provided but did not; therefore we presented a plan in order to prevent our houses from being razed.

"The municipality wants to issue a plan that would warrant the destruction of many houses and allow expropriation of 60% of the land for the purpose of building a park, instead of more housing units and buildings," Arsheed added, "The problem is that since 1967 Jerusalem authorities did not do any planning in the eastern part of the city and did not allow us to develop the Palestinian neighborhoods."


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