Appeal halts work at Shepherd Hotel site


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Work on the construction of a Jewish housing project in eastern Jerusalem has been halted pending a meeting on the project.

The appeals committee of the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee issued a temporary injunction order Sunday to stop the construction of 20 apartments  at the Shepherd Hotel site in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood until further discussion on the project at the meeting, which is set for Wednesday.

The temporary injunction was issued after The Muslim Committee, a new nongovernmental organization that describes itself as seeking to preserve Muslim sites in Israel, filed a complaint with the city’s building committee, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Kais Nasser, the NGO’s attorney, argued that the building permit is illegal because it violates international law prohibiting the establishment of a settlement on occupied territory. Israel annexed eastern Jerusalem following its capture in 1967.

The complaint also says that a Jewish neighborhood cannot be build in the middle of an Arab neighborhood and that the building should be preserved due to its historic significance. Constructed in the 1930s, the building once was the home of the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a World War II ally of Hitler.

Palestinian and U.S. leaders, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, have condemned the building of Jewish housing on the site. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the project is a private venture.

American Jewish billionaire Irving Moskowitz purchased the property in 1985. Part of the hotel was demolished recently in preparation for construction.

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