The decision to develop Har Homa has caused a furor among Palestinian leaders, who charge that by unilaterally deciding to build in East Jerusalem the government is endangering the peace process. David Myr also opposes the government’s decision, but for an entirely different reason. He is the manager of Makor, a publicly owned company that owns approximately 60% of Har Homa. Since purchasing the land in 1970, he has tried unsuccessfully to bring his vision for Har Homa – which includes a shopping center, hotels, a golf course, country club, and public park – to fruition, weaving his way through Israel’s vast bureaucratic machine.
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In 1991, after Makor and the government finally arrived at an agreement for building much needed apartment units, the government reneged on the deal, confiscating the Makor owned land as well as land from the other Jewish and Arab landowners.
In order to avoid the political storm that would result from confiscating privately owned land, Makor proposed an alternate plan. Created by Ram Karmi, the same architect who also had drafted the previous plan at the behest of both Makor and the government, the case went before the Israeli High Court in May 1993. The court decided to cancel the confiscation on the condition that Makor and the government agree on the planning and a timetable for the construction, and that Makor bear infrustructure costs.
After the government rejected Makor’s offer to develop the land a second time, it came up with its own plan, which according to Myr would come at a higher cost to the Israeli economy. He proposed a way to save $800 million, under which Makor would pay for public buildings and infrustructure, reduce the price of apartments by 10%, and turn over all profits to a humanitarian fund. The government refused the offer, and began to look for other investors.
Myr suspects that hidden interests lie at the heart of the Har Homa matter. In 1994 he attempted to buy out the other Jewish landowners, offering them 5% above the government price. Their refusal continues to baffle Myr, who says that the government must have made them offers of which he is unaware. He cannot understand why the government continues to dismiss his plan, which has been agreed to by Palestinian land owners at Har Homa, since it would allow them to build on their own property.
Myr is now waiting to hear from the Israeli Supreme Court, hoping it will cancel the land confiscation. After 27 years he still clings to his dream of turning Har Homa into a residential neighborhood. Unfortunately, Har Homa appears more likely to be associated with demonstrations and riots in the near future, instead of a place where people live.