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Israeli army to construct campus in disputed east Jerusalem: report

02-16-2011 16:37 BJT

JERUSALEM, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in joint cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Defense Ministry, plans to construct an installation that will house military colleges on Mount Scopus in East Jerusalem, Israeli daily Ha'aretz revealed Tuesday.

Plans for the IDF's academic campus have been launched, after the municipality commissioned a local architect to draw up the blueprints for the project, the report said.

The newspaper claims to have obtained a document that includes the initial draft of the plan and details the grounds on which the base will be built -- a few dozen acres on Mount Scopus, not far from Hebrew University, on land seized during the 1967 war and annexed by Israel in its aftermath.

The campus is slated to house the IDF's Command and Staff School for senior officers, the School for National Security Studies and a military academy, all of which currently operate from a base north of Tel Aviv. In between classes, the students will enjoy a swimming pool and a gym, among other amenities, according to the report.

City hall and Defense Ministry officials rebuffed the report, saying that the campus will be built within the green line, on land that was part of Israel prior to 1967.

The report, however, claims it will encroach upon land that originally belonged to Jordan and under its sovereignty from 1948 until 1967, and declared a demilitarized zone after the 1967 war.

Construction of the base will likely trigger harsh criticism from the United States and Europe, who view Israeli construction in East Jerusalem as a major obstacle to the peace process.

In December, U.S. officials slammed Israel for tearing down the Shepherd Hotel in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah -- a structure originally constructed by Jordan -- in order to build housing units for religious Jewish couples on the site.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the criticism, saying a businessman was behind the project, and that the government cannot legally ban construction of housing for Israelis wishing to live in Jerusalem.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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