Head of foundation that helps Jews settle in Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods wins Israel Prize


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The founder and chairman of the Ir David Foundation, which assists Jews in settling in Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, will be awarded an Israel Prize for 2017, one of the country’s highest honors.

David Beeri will receive the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement, Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced Thursday.

The Ir David Foundation, also known as Elad, oversees the Ir David archaeological park in Silwan in eastern Jerusalem along with helping Jewish settlement.

In announcing the selection, Bennett noted the 50-year anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and called Beeri “among the greatest builders of modern-day Jerusalem.”

Beeri said in response to the announcement: “This prize is not for me as an individual, but rather is another important step in strengthening the connection between the State of Israel and the Jewish People to our legacy in Jerusalem.  Today the City of David is growing and expanding, penetrating into the hearts of our nation. This achievement is the result of the efforts of a group of dedicated people, as well as millions of supporters of Jerusalem, who have joined us over the years.”

Ir David has clashed with left-wing NGOs, including Ir Amim and Emek Shaveh, who say  its expanding footprint in the Silwan neighborhood is contributing to the “Judaization” of east Jerusalem.

Past recipients of the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement include Golda Meir, Abba Eban, and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel.

Bennett announced last month that Agnes Keleti, the winner of 10 Olympic medals in artistic gymnastics, will be awarded the Israel Prize for Sport and Physical Culture this year. Keleti, a Holocaust survivor, represented Hungary at the 1952 and 1956 games. She moved to Israel in 1957.

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