Neighbours fear the traffic and rent increases

PEOPLE living near the new American embassy in the suburb of Arnona are worried about how an influx of American diplomats and public figures could disturb their quiet surroundings.

They fear that the opening of the embassy will bring more cars and higher rents.

“It’s a question of of how this leafy area is going to adjust to more people passing through and that much more going on,” said Katz, 29, an American who has lived in Jerusalem since 2012 and moved to Arnona in the south of the city last year.

“It’s much less an issue of politics — more one of congestion and rising rents.”

Building contractor Yehezkel Balas, 67, agreed. “It will affect the roads — there will be more traffic.” he said. But he added: “For business, it will only do good. There will be more people, naturally, and more demand for apartments for rent. Big picture, it won’t do damage.”

On the hilltops next to Arnona are the Arab suburbs of Sur Baher and Jabel Mukaber. Residents say relations between Arabs and Jews are good — and unlikely to be damaged by the embassy.

“Eighty percent of my customers are Palestinians,” said Naomi Elook, 64, who owns a health clinic overlooking the embassy and who learned Arabic to communicate better with her clientele.

“I get along with them great. They love coming here.”

But the move will disturb the lives of at least some Arnona locals. Several hundred elderly immigrants from the former Soviet Union live in public housing next to the embassy.

And as the building which the American government purchased in 2014 expands, the immigrants will have to move out. But even so, 81-year-old Nadia Freidlin said: “That everyone hates our state is a problem, but this is OK.“I’m happy that it will be here.”

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