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Plan shelved to turn historic Arab village at Jerusalem entrance into luxury housing

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The Jerusalem Municipality and Israel Lands Authority have agreed to shelve and “rethink” plans to turn the picturesque former Arab village of Lifta, located close to the western exit from the capital, into a boutique neighborhood for the rich.

Mayor Moshe Lion wants to preserve the village and turn it into a World Heritage Site.

Lifta is already on the list of UNESCO’s tentative World Heritage Sites for bearing “unique testimony of the traditional village life.”

The hamlet, which tumbles down the hillside and into a valley, was completely emptied during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, and the occupants were never allowed to return. It is a matter of historical debate whether the villagers fled or were forced out.

Unlike hundreds of other Arab villages that were abandoned only to be bulldozed and subsequently built over after the war, Lifta has remained virtually untouched, as if frozen in time.

Some 75 stone homes are dotted through the area, many of them remarkably preserved, even if their roofs have caved in.

A spring-fed pool is especially popular with Jerusalemites during the summer.

The descendants of the original villagers, the Liftawis, return annually to declare to themselves and the world that one day they will return.

The Israel Lands Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality under its previous mayor, Nir Barkat, now a Likud Knesset member, wanted to develop Lifta by building luxury housing, a hotel, and an upscale commercial and business center there.

A Coalition to Save Lifta was formed to........

© The Times of Israel

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