A plan by the Israel Defense Forces and the Jerusalem Municipality to transfer three military colleges to the Jerusalem Forest is generating broad opposition from city residents, community leaders, the Jewish National Fund and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has been trying to bring the military colleges to Jerusalem. The original plan was to house them on Mount Scopus, but this was cancelled for diplomatic reasons, since many of the new structures would have been located over the Green Line. The new plan’s opponents say that alternatives, including a plot near the Hebrew University campus in Givat Ram or an abandoned army base in the Beit Zayit area, were rejected without being examined in depth.
Several months ago the municipality suggested housing the colleges near the Tzipori leisure complex in the heart of the Jerusalem Forest. The defense minister and deputy chief of staff gave a green light to prepare plans.
Opponents note that the move would destroy the Jerusalem Forest as an urban leisure area and totally contravened the plan approved only a few years ago which calls for the forest to be used only for leisure. Over the past several decades the forest area has been reduced to a quarter of its original size by development.
Moving the colleges there would apparently require at least 25,000 square meters of structures, 15,000 square meters of parking, and widening of the roads.
“We see bringing the IDF colleges to the city as a strategic step for the city’s future, the strengthening of its Zionist sector and young families,” said the municipality.