Tension is mounting in East Jerusalem—again. On Tuesday, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat unveiled plans for the construction of an impressive new tourist park in the neighborhood of Silwan.
Should Barkat’s vision become reality, Silwan will eventually become a mecca for tourism and a cash cow for Silwan’s Jews and Arabs. Situated in an area of Silwan that officials are calling “king’s park” (after the biblical King David), the leafy development will consist of souvenir shops, artists’ workshops, restaurants and commercial facilities, as well as a world-class archeological museum. Construction would include overhauling infrastructure in some parts of Silwan and revamping large swathes of the dilapidated Kidron Valley. According to the official website of Jerusalem, “The Gihon Spring will once again flow along the Kidron Valley, the orchards will be replanted, and a blooming garden will be grown, which would be open to both visitors and the neighborhood residents” (March 2).