Cohen Brothers Hope to Build on Jerusalem-Bethlehem Seam

( Jerusalem brothers Danny and Benny Cohen have gone public with their ownership of “thousands” of dunams (quarter-acres) of land in southern Jerusalem, on which they hope to build between 1,000 and 12,000 housing units.

The Globes internet business site broke the news of the next planned controversial real estate development. The Cohens are little-known businessmen who purchased, over the past 26 years, thousands of acres of land along the Jerusalem-Bethlehem seamline area. They said they plan to file, within a few months, a construction plan for the area - Givat Yael - with the Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Commission. Construction in this area means expanding the borders of greater Jerusalem.

Danny Cohen emphasized repeatedly, in his interview with Globes, that his interest in this project is only financial and not political. He appeared to be slightly embarrassed by his association with his close colleague, Meir Davidson, who at one time represented the religious-nationalist Ateret Cohanim, the non-profit organization that seeks to buy properties in eastern Jerusalem and settle Jews there.

"No right-wing organizations are involved, and no tycoons with a political interest," he said. “It’s just my brother and I; Benny identified the potential many years ago, and now we’re just hoping to realize the profits that can be garnered here.”

The Kim Lustigman Development and Building company has signed on with the Cohens as a strategic partner in the project. Cohen says the construction several years ago of Teddy Stadium and then the Malha Mall “was very gratifying” to him, because it brings construction on his property closer to fruition. Part of the area is under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality, and part is in Judea/Samaria; Cohen is well aware that the former will be developed before the latter.

"We believe that 20,000 housing units will be needed in Jerusalem over the next ten years," Cohen told Globes. "I'm not a megalomaniac, I don’t imagine that we'll build everything. We'll get 1,000 housing units approved initially, and then we'll see. This is a modular plan. At present we are not working on the area in Judea and Samaria.”

Many large Jerusalem neighborhoods are located in areas that were liberated during the 1967 Six Day War. These include Ramat Eshkol, French Hill, Neve Yaakov, Ramot, Pisgat Zev, Gilo, Har Homa, East Talpiyot, and more.

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