An amendment to the National Parks, Nature Reserves and Memorial Sites Law will move to the Knesset Interior Committee on its way to final readings in the plenum.
According to NGO Ir Amim, the legislation is "specifically designed" to enable right-wing settler group Elad to expand its settlement in the Wadi Hilweh section of Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, "by reversing a long-standing prohibition against residential construction in national parks".
Since Israeli authorities awarded Elad daily management of the City of David site in Silwan, the organisation – which has taken over some 75 Palestinian homes – "has utilised this key touristic settlement to impose an exclusive, right-wing Jewish narrative onto archaeological digs".
Ir Amim said that the new legal amendment "will set the ground for a dangerous new phase in Elad's penetration of Silwan", adding that "it is strongly anticipated that passage of the bill will usher in master plans for expansion of Israeli settlement in the neighbourhood".
So-called "Amendment 17" was first discussed in the Knesset Interior Committee in January; during the session, Elad's Director David Be'eri was invited by committee chair MK Dudi Amsalem to "explain what you need".
For Ir Amim, "promotion of this amendment lays bare the political drivers behind national park planning and development in East Jerusalem, an integral part of a larger settlement enterprise".
"National parks have become an effective tool for the state, working in cooperation with private bodies, to transfer administration and development powers for public, touristic, archaeological and educational projects into the hands of private right-wing organisations; in so doing, enabling the Israelisation of the Old City and surrounding band of Palestinian neighbourhoods."