Posts Tagged ‘occupied East Jerusalem’

Israel levels Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem

October 29, 2009
Al Jazeera, Oct 28, 2009

Israeli authorities have torn down several Palestinian houses in occupied east Jerusalem, defying international calls to halt the demolitions in the disputed city.

Gidi Schmerling, a Jerusalem municipality spokesman, said the houses in the Shuafat, Zur Baher, Silwan and Jabel Mukabar neighbourhoods were pulled down on Tuesday because they had been built illegally.

“All the houses were demolished in accordance with a court order,” he said in a statement to the AFP news agency.

Palestinians say that the municipality discriminates against them, making it virtually impossible for them to get legal permits for new homes or extensions to existing ones.

As a result, thousands of effectively illegal structures have been built in recent decades with Israel responding by destroying dozens of houses each year.

Construction crackdown

Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, had vowed to crack down on illegal construction in the city, including east Jerusalem, whose fate is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

in depth
Analysis: US shifting stance on settlements
Focus: Limiting a Palestinian state
Focus: Palestinians – No homeland in Jordan
Video: The settlements issue
Video: Jerusalem remains obstacle
Video: Debating Israeli settlements
Q&A: Jewish settlement

But the United Nations on Tuesday called for an immediate halt to all forced evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes in the area, which was seized by Israel in the 1967 war.

“Such actions run counter to international law and have a serious and long-term negative impact on Palestinian families and communities,” the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.”The UN reiterates its call for an immediate and unconditional halt to such actions and urges the state of Israel to protect the civilian population in OPT [occupied Palestinian Territories] from further displacement and dispossession.”

At least 600 Palestinians ave been displaced by eveictions and demolitions since the beginning of the year, according to OCHA, and many thousands more may be at risk.

The United States, which is seeking to revive peace talks in the long-standing dispute, called the latest demolitions “unhelpful”.

The forced evictions and demolitions have raised tensions in the eastern half of the city, which Palestinians see as the capital of any future independent state.

The situation has prompted a number of protests and Palestinians have attempted to challenge the municipality’s actions in the courts.

‘Irresponsible step’

An Israeli rights group, Ir Amim, said the demolitions were “an irresponsible step that could escalate the situation in the city and bring it to a new boiling point”.

Palestinians and human rights groups have condemned Israel’s demolition policy, accusing it of using the demolitions to shift east Jerusalem’s demographic balance.

“International bodies and the United Nations Security Council should intervene to stop Israeli authorities from carrying out these criminal actions,” Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian-appointed governor of Jerusalem, said.

A UN report in May showed that 1,500 demolition orders issued by the Jerusalem municipality were pending for illegal Palestinian dwellings.

The report said that if the orders were implemented, about 9,000 Palestinians would be displaced.

There are about 200,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem, alongside an estimated 250,000 Palestinians.

MIDEAST: Israel Pushes Ahead with Settlement Expansion

August 28, 2008

By Mel Frykberg


JERUSALEM, Aug 27 (IPS) – Israel has published tenders for the construction of 1,761 illegal housing units for Israeli settlers in occupied east Jerusalem alone, according to the Israeli rights group Peace Now.

The expansion plans come despite promises by the Israeli government at last year’s peace summit at Annapolis, Maryland (in the U.S.) to freeze all settlement growth.

“Once again this government has shown that its words and commitments are meaningless, and they have no intention of keeping to their word,” says Peace Now.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed repeatedly that settlement construction or expansion in the West Bank is contrary to international law and Israel’s commitments under the ‘road map’ peace process.

The road map was a series of peace-building measures proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2002 and subsequently developed by the diplomatic Quartet of the European Union, the United Nations, Russia and the United States.

Ban Ki-moon further urged Israel to freeze all settlement activity and to dismantle outposts erected since March of 2001.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, normally a diehard supporter of Israel, also expressed her concern about the settlement building during her last visit to Israel several months ago.

“It’s important to have an atmosphere of confidence and trust,” Rice said following talks she held with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. “The United States believes that the (settlement) actions and the announcements that are taking place are indeed having a negative effect on the atmosphere for negotiation.”

The new construction should not be allowed to shape future Israeli-Palestinian borders, which remain under negotiation, Rice said. “The United States will not let these activities have any effect on final status negotiations, including final borders.”

The Geneva Conventions specifically forbid the transfer of a civilian population into occupied territory.

But even as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was meeting with Abbas in Jerusalem last week in an endeavour to further the peace process, plans for further settlement construction were already under way.

At the beginning of the month, prior to Peace Now’s statement, the Israel Lands Authority published tenders for the construction of 130 new housing units in Har Homa, East Jerusalem.

Continued . . .


%d bloggers like this: