JERUSALEM (JTA) — The construction of a Museum of Tolerance in the center of Jerusalem can begin immediately after receiving final approval for a building permit.
The Ministry of the Interior’s District Planning and Construction Committee granted the approval for the $100 million museum on Tuesday. The state issued the building permit rather than the municipality of Jerusalem because of the sensitivity of the site, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Muslim religious leaders say the site had served for centuries as a Muslim cemetery and are opposing the plan. They appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, which granted the Wiesenthal Center permission to continue.
The center had withdrawn the original plan more than two years ago due to the slumping economy. Renowned architect Frank Gehry’s design called for a 240,000-square-foot museum at a cost of $250 million. Gehry later left the project.
Tel Aviv-based Chyutin Architects designed a smaller, less expensive building that includes three floors and two additional underground ones, as well as an archaeological garden, with a Roman aqueduct discovered during digs on the site.
The site, which was given to the Wiesenthal Center by the government of Israel and the Jerusalem municipality, had served as the city’s municipal parking lot for more than 40 years. Muslim groups had not protested that the parking lot had been part of an ancient burial site, according to the Wiesenthal Center’s website.