Lifta is one of the last remnants of the Palestinian villages that were abandoned in 1948, during the war that created the state of Israel. It embodies shared Palestinian and Israeli heritage, being both an ancient Palestinian village in the west end of Jerusalem, and part of the history of Jewish immigration from Arab countries.
Addressing the Challenge
Despite Lifta being declared a natural reserve in July 2017, the Israeli government is planning to push through a property development of 200 luxury houses, mainly destined for American millionaires. The Israeli government states that the conservation costs for the now-abandoned village are prohibitive. However, the Save Lifta Coalition considers this a political attempt to “obliterate the remnants of the last abandoned Palestinian village, and give a handful of millionaires one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Israel”.
Dr Riganti is a Senior Lecturer in Real Estate, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Nottingham Trent University. Dr Riganti’s research focuses on urban sustainable development and on the assessment of urban policies related to cultural heritage conservation, heritage management, cultural diversity and sustainable cultural tourism. She is a member of two ICOMOS International Scientific Committees: on Economics of Conservation and on Energy and Sustainable Development.
Making a Difference
The Save Lifta Coalition has recently brought the case to international attention after campaigning to include Lifta in the 2018 World Monuments Watch, which lists the 100 most endangered sites in the world. The impact of this research is high.
Dr Riganti has worked for decades on the development of economic valuation techniques to assess the benefits of conservation options to support decision-making. The conservation option has great social benefits in this case, which is a high-profile example of how investing in conservation might help the peace-building process in one of the most contested and politically unstable regions in the world.