Al Jazeera for the win with investigative journalism.
All of this is in the background while a UN press briefing stated that as few as 60,000 Palestinians are now at risk of house demolition because
“excessive delays, high fees and the uncertainty associated with the application process push many Palestinians to build without permits.”
But the Israeli-run city has made plans to move in more settlements and build an “archaeology park” where the Palestinians currently live.
Every international newspaper picked up on this, highlighting different things about the process.
…Israel destroys hundreds of Palestinian buildings elsewhere in the West Bank every year on the grounds that they were built illegally.
…The situation has become even worse in recent years, because construction of the separation fence led many Palestinians who were living east of the fence to move to East Jerusalem to avoid being cut off from the city.
…Under international law, Israel’s claim to the neighbourhood itself is illegal because it is not recognised by world powers as part of the Israeli capital.
…If the demolition orders are carried out it would represent one of the largest forced evictions since Israel occupied mostly Arab East Jerusalem.
…Only 13 per cent of annexed East Jerusalem land area was currently zoned by the Israeli authorities for Palestinian construction, the report said.
…Most of that land is already overcrowded by existing construction projects, severely restricting the possibility of Palestinians obtaining a permit.
…The demolitions, and calls by Jerusalem’s Israeli mayor, Nir Barkat, to expand Jewish settlements on occupied land, have stoked tensions in the city, and put Israel on a possible collision course with its U.S. and European allies.
…Many are located in areas zoned as “green areas” by the Jerusalem municipality. This includes the Silwan area, where the municipality plans to demolish 88 Palestinian residential buildings to make way for an archaeological park.
…In a response to the U.N. report, Jerusalem mayor Barkat denied the allegations and disputed the facts, but agreed there was a “planning crisis” in the city.
…“This report is about the past, while Mayor Barkat is committed to the future and providing a better quality of life for all residents of Jerusalem,” a statement from his office said.
…The crisis “throughout all of Jerusalem … affects Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike”, the mayor said, and it would soon be tackled comprehensively in a the first “master plan for the city” to be drawn up in 50 years.
…So far, home demolitions have occurred on a far smaller scale, averaging about 75 a year between 2000 and 2008. But the problem continues to mount because the number of building permits issued to Palestinians in East Jerusalem has remained stable at about 100 to 150 per year, providing about 1,100 fewer housing units than needed annually to keep up with Palestinian population growth, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs concludes in its study, which calls for a freeze on demolitions in East Jerusalem.
…The political significance of demolitions is far more pointed in East Jerusalem, an area that Israeli land-use lawyer and activist Daniel Seidemann calls the “molten core” of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. While many Arabs firmly hope that East Jerusalem will serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state, many Jewish Israelis are adamant that the city should remain united and under Israeli control.
…During a recent tour of East Jerusalem, Robert H. Serry, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, called for an immediate end to the demolitions, which he described as “not helpful,” fueling tensions at a time when “the international community is trying to relaunch a results-oriented peace process.”