It was a Christian leader who this month heralded the construction of a new neighborhood in northern Jerusalem that will bolster Palestinian Authority efforts to secure the eastern half of the Holy City as the capital of a future State of Palestine.
The new neighborhood of “Lana” will be built near the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Pisgat Ze’ev, and at least part of it will be within the municipal borders of the Israeli capital. Lana will eventually feature thousands of high-end housing units (400 of which will be within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries), commercial property, schools and entertainment centers. Developers view it as a bridge between Jerusalem and the nearby de facto Palestinian capital of Ramallah. In other words, Ramallah growing into Jerusalem.
And this vision was made possible through cooperation between top Palestinian developers and the Greek Orthodox Church.
Opening the October 11 press conference at St. George Hotel in Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III (pictured above) stated that “our community will be blessed and grow in strength” through the establishment of the Lana neighborhood.
It was not immediately clear what role Theophilos played in realizing the Lana project, but the Greek Orthodox Church owns large swaths of land in and around Jerusalem. Whatever the Church’s part, also attending the press conference was Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Mufti of Palestine, who thanked his Christian colleague for the Church’s “contribution” to making Lana a reality. See related: Who Really Owns the Holy City, and Does It Even Matter?
The Planning and Building Committee of the Jerusalem Municipality first approved the project in 2019, and just last month the first building permits were issued. Construction is set to begin in the coming months.
Jerusalem City Council member Yonatan Yosef was among those angered by the decision: “As a member of the Planning and Building Committee, I am shocked that people who define themselves as Zionists are working against Zion. I will do my best to thwart this threat to the Jewish majority in Jerusalem.”
Maor Tzemach, head of the Lach Yerushalayim (For You, Jerusalem) organization, told Israel Hayom that the Lana project will “harm the unity of Jerusalem” and advance the Palestinian goal of “greater Al Quds.”