The Seven Arches Hotel illegally built by Jordan in the Mount of Olives cemetery should be either demolished or else evicted and used by the Israeli government.
For decades the Arabs sistematicaly vandalized, desecrated and destroyed thousands of ancient Jewish tombstones in Mount of Olives and the Israeli government failed to react to protect the peace process Harhazeisim.org reported “…Mourners are still stoned frequently near the cemetery and headstones are regularly defaced and smashed. This on the mountain slopes where Jews have been interring their dead for over 3,000 years. Its proximity to the Temple Mount, as well as the traditional proscription against burials within Jerusalem’s walls, made the Mount of Olives hallowed as far back as First Temple days.
The chain continued unbroken, save for 19 years of Jordanian occupation (1948-67), during which the cemetery was despoiled in a callous breach of the Hashemite Kingdom’s undertakings to safeguard holy places. The destruction was unbridled and premeditated. Ancient tombstones were ripped out to be used as latrine floors, urinal walls and pavement stones. The Intercontinental Hotel and Jericho Road were constructed over graves. Garbage was regularly dumped on the tombs.
After the Six Day War, when the area came under Israeli sovereign control, prominent Israelis like former prime minister Menachem Begin, Nobel laureate Shai Agnon, poet Uri Zvi Greenberg, and rabbis Shlomo Goren and Zvi Yehuda Kook asked to be laid to rest there. Nevertheless, this did not bring the necessary allocation of resources for upkeep and security at a cemetery of peerless historical continuity and significance.
The preferred target of the vandals, who recurrently raid after sundown, is enigmatically the Gerrer Rebbe’s grave, but Begin’s has also been damaged. Vandals have smeared human feces on tombs and deluged them with household rubbish and construction debris. Markers have been daubed in tar and paint. Hate-graffiti has been scrawled and gravestones have been hammered and shattered.
Because of the frequent daytime assaults on visitors, many fear going there. Vehicles are routinely stoned from the yard of a nearby Arab school in an especially dismal expression of enmity.”
After the 1967 war the Israeli government took control over the Seven Arches Hotel (then known as Intercontinental) illegally built by the Jordanian Kingdom on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives desecrating thousands of Jewish Tombs in the Cemetery. On Sep 1, 1967 the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported “The Israeli Government has taken over the Intercontinental Hotel, the newest and most lavish hostelry in East Jerusalem, the former “Old City.” it was reported here today. The hotel is being operated under the supervision of the Government’s Custodian of Abandoned Property.
The Intercontinental is located on the very edge of the ancient Mount of Olives Cemetery. The Jordanian Government had built for the hotel an access road across a portion of the cemetery, desecrating many Jewish graves. Among the graves destroyed by the Jordanians was the burial ground of the late Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization of America.”
In 2010 the Israeli government had plans to modify the building (which is still operating as a hotel) but plans were frozen in order not to derail the peace process. Haaretz reported “The hotel is the property of the Jordanian royal family and was transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Property after the 1967 Six-Day War.
Because of the sensitivity of the site and the importance of good relations with the Jordanian royal family, Israel until now avoided making any changes in the hotel. Any move affecting the site was done in coordination with the Foreign Ministry and the Jordanian government.
Since talks on a final-status agreement began, the Palestinians have consistently demanded Israel avoid any unilateral steps in violation of the status quo in the eastern part of the city, and the United States is also opposed to any such moves.”
Since 1967 the Israeli government did not want to interrupt the operation of the hotel illegally built in Mount of Olives by the Jordanians in order not to derail peace negotiations but now that the Palestinians (with Obama’s help) violated the Oslo accords with UNSC 2334, Israel should demolish or evict the hotel from the building and move a government office there. Using the Seven Arches Hotel building for an Israeli Government office would be the best way to assert Israeli sovereignty over the Mount of Olives including its ancient cemetery.
Ezequiel Doiny is author of “Obama’s assault on Jerusalem’s Western Wall”