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Construction of ICC Jerusalem

With the closing of the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Herzl dreamed of establishing a permanent home for the Congress in Jerusalem. In his book Alteneuland (1902), he described it as a monumental building with luminous marble, tall and spacious, through whose corridors delegates of the Congress would pass. 

In 1949, Alexander (Ezer) Yevzarov of the Jewish Agency, a man full of energy and vision and with the rare ability to make things happen, approached David Ben Gurion and proposed that he establish a conference center in Jerusalem that would serve as a place for conventions and celebratory events. Ben Gurion, given his practical style, thought about this and felt that this conference center should be given a Hebrew name, and gave his approval to hold an architectural competition. Architect Zeev Rechter of his firm Rechter Zarchi Rechter won the competition. Seven months later, blasting of the rocks began at the building site where the village Sheikh Bader once stood. 
The date for completion of the building, with its name determined as "Binyanei Ha'uma", was set for the opening of the 23rd Zionist Congress in 1951. In order to expedite the work, the Binyanei Ha'uma Company was established, which set as its goal the construction of a complex of multiuse buildings that would make Jerusalem an international cultural center. Yevzarov was appointed as the company's manager. Even though the founders did not have full funding for completion of the building on time, the works began with the hope that the shortfall would be raised. 

Despite enormous efforts, the building was not completed before the opening of the 23rd Zionist Congress. Nevertheless, the largest hall of Binyanei Ha'uma, Ussishkin Hall, was still able to host the first Zionist Congress – the 23rd – held in the State of Israel. 
Raising money to complete construction of the building was not an easy matter. Yevzarov raised funds from the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund, the Jerusalem Development Co., and by way of preferred shares and loans by local insurance companies, but these sources were still not enough. Consequently, membership shares were issued to the general public each worth 10 Lirot, which ensured membership in the Binyanei Ha'uma Association, preferred rights for the purchase of tickets for future performances and prizes, which included trips to cultural sites abroad. Placards were hung throughout Israel asking the public to respond to this national task and purchase shares. Still, the constant shortage of funds delayed construction and the builders were forced to struggle to acquire steel, cement and other materials. The construction work was finally completed only in 1959. 
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