October 28, 2009
Israel razes Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem
Tel Aviv again defies international law as it demolishes five new houses in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM – Israel on Tuesday razed five Palestinian houses in occupied East Jerusalem, defying international calls to halt the demolitions in the city, Israel said.
Israel demolished houses and structures built “without permits” in the neighborhoods of Shuafat, Zur Baher, Silwan and Jabel Mukabar, Israeli spokesman Gidi Schmerling said in a statement.
“All the houses were demolished in accordance with a court order,” he said.
An Israeli rights group, Ir Amim, criticized the demolitions as “an irresponsible step that could escalate the situation in the city and bring it to a new boiling point.”
Occupied Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had vowed to crack down on “illegal” construction in the city, including Palestinian East Jerusalem, which is itself illegally occupied by Israel.
The city’s Palestinian residents have long accused the Israeli-run municipality of discriminating against them and making it virtually impossible to get legal permits for new homes or extensions to existing ones.
As a result, Palestinian residents have built thousands of new structures in recent decades and Israel has issued demolition orders and destroyed dozens of houses each year.
Threatened demolitions have raised tensions in the eastern half of the city, with Palestinians holding regular protests and filing court cases.
Several Western countries, including the United States, France and Britain, have also criticized the threatened evictions, saying they are against international law have a negative effect on the Middle East peace process.
Israel occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem in 1967.
Under international law, neither East nor West Jerusalem is considered Israel’s capital. Tel Aviv is recognized as Israel’s capital, pending a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.
East Jerusalem is considered by the international community to be illegally occupied by Israel, in contravention of several binding UN Security Council Resolutions.
In these resolutions, the United Nations Security Council has also called for no measures to be taken to change the status of Jerusalem until a final settlement is reached between the sides.
Declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an attempt to change this status, and is thus a violation of these Security Council resolutions.