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Israel orders demolition of 88 homes in E. Jerusalem

By MOHAMMED MAR’I

18mid_jerusalem.jpg

Rows of apartment blocks under construction are seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Givat Zeev near Jerusalem on Thursday. (Reuters)


November 18, 2010

RAMALLAH: The Israeli Attorney Yehuda Weinstein ordered the Jewish-dominated Jerusalem Municipality to raze dozens of homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Palestinian officials said.

Ahmed Al-Rowaidhi, the chief of Al-Quds Unit at the Palestinian presidency, said that Weinstein gave the municipality to demolish around 88 homes in Al-Bustan area in Silwan under the pretext that they were illegally built.

According to the official, "Israeli will evict 1500 Palestinians from Al-Bustan to make room for a tourist center in the area." The center, which is called Al-Bustan in Arabic and Gan Hamelekh (King’s Garden) in Hebrew, is to include restaurants and boutique hotels.

He added that Weinstein’s order may affect "20,000 homes in East Jerusalem which Israel says were illegally built." He warned that Israel will displace around 100,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem if it implements its demolition threats "to change the demographic status in the city to Judaize it."

Rowaidhi added that the "owners cannot obtain the licenses due to the lack of building plans in the threatened areas and the laws and regulation imposed on Jerusalemites by the municipality."

For his part, the head of the Committee for Defending Land in Silwan, Fakhri Abu Diab said that Weinstein’s order came after Tuesday’s Knesset emergency session which discussed the demolition of homes in East Jerusalem and mainly on the neighborhood of Silwan.

Abu-Diab added that the Israeli attorney general also ordered the municipality to seal of immediately a controversial Jewish residence in Silwan.

He added that the decision against Beit Yonatan building where eight Jewish occupier families live "is to avoid international criticism and to indicate that Israel is implementing the law and not targeting only one party."

The two Palestinian officials urged the Arab leaders to "to make efficient decisions to face the wild Israeli campaign it carries out against Jerusalem and other Palestinian holy sites."

The policy of house demolitions and settlement building in East Jerusalem are being used by the Israeli authorities and Jerusalem municipality to increase Jewish presence and manipulate the composition of the population in order to gain more control over the city prior to final status talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Israel and the Palestinians dispute over Jerusalem, as Israel says united Jerusalem is its eternal capital, while the Palestinians call for having the eastern part of the city, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, as the capital of their future statehood.

The Palestinians suspended the direct peace talks with Israel on Oct. 2, four weeks after the US-sponsored talks were launched in Washington.

The decision was made after the Israeli government refused to extend a 10-month moratorium on freezing settlement construction that ended in Sept. 26, throwing peace talks into jeopardy and prompting the US to offer Israel incentives including 20 F-35s fighter jets in exchange for three additional months freeze.

In a separate development, Israeli forces arrested 12 Palestinian, foreign and Israeli peace activists near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli forces raided the Ein Al-Beida area, to the south of Bethlehem while preparing the land for winter crop season and arrested the twelve, including five Israelis.

Israeli security sources said that the twelve were arrested over suspicions that they attempted to set fire to a field belonging to Jewish occupiers near the settlement of Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion, to the south of Bethlehem.

The sources said that detainees were handed over to Israeli police for questioning.










:: Article nr. 71963 sent on 19-nov-2010 00:11 ECT

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Link: arabnews.com/middleeast/article195443.ece



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