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FW: Silwan

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  • e.paramo@tiscali.co.uk
    ... from ... Meron ... al-Bustan ... illegal ... Valley, ... were ... connecting ... filed ... Palestinian ... for. ... buildings ... is ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2005
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      >Wednesday's issue of The Indepenent newspaper carried an article about the
      >homes in Silwan slated for demolition. The following information was sent
      >out by Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, ICAHD's Action Advocacy Officer. She said
      >that Thursday afternoon, ICAHD staff members will take diplomats and journalists
      >on a tour of Silwan, informing them of the terrible threat to the village.
      >"It is clear, according to ICAHD staff member, Meir Margalit, that the real
      >aim is not to develop an archaeological site in Silwan, but the real aim
      >is purely political. He maintains the decision doesn't come from the Mayor
      >of Jerusalem's office because the issue is far too serious, grave or far-reaching
      >to have come from the mayor, but from the Prime Minister's Office (Dov Weisglass?)
      >and that in his opinion this is part of the agreement which Sharon has made
      >with the right-wing parties, according to which he, Sharon, is evacuating
      >the Gaza settlements in exchange for strengthening the Jewish settlement
      >population both in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
      >Secondly, the aim is to make a contiguous line of settlements in East Jerusalem
      >that will commence at the Old City and stretch out through the City of David,
      >to el-Bustan, and on to Ras el-Amud (Maale Zeitim), and from there to Abu
      >Dis (Kidmat Zion) and from there to connect with E-1 and Ma'ale Adumim.

      >This will cut the territorial contiguity between the northern and southern
      >parts of East Jerusalem. They will also surround and cut off Jerusalem
      >the other towns in the future Palestinian state and therefore cut off Palestine
      >from any contact with its legitimate capital. In this way, they will undermine
      >any future peace accord in the Middle East.
      >Attached here are both the article in yesterday's Haaretz newspaper, by
      >Rapoport, by which we learn that the Jerusalem Municipality is determined
      >to demolish these 88 houses and today's article by Rapoport as to this morning's
      >Knesset hearing.
      >We believe that this is a project on which only international pressure will
      >be able to have a positive effect, to avert this disaster."
      >Dr. Meir Margalit is available at 00972 0544-345-503.
      > w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
      > Last update - 02:22 31/05/2005
      > City to raze homes of 1,000 residents in East Jerusalem neighborhood
      > By Meron Rapoport, Haaretz Correspondent
      > The Jerusalem Municipality has begun proceedings to raze 88 buildings
      >housing some 1,000 residents in the Silwan neighborhood, to "restore the
      >area to its landscape of yore," according to the city engineer, Uri Shetrit.
      >The demolition, if it goes ahead, will be among the largest to take place
      >in East Jerusalem since 1967.
      > The Silwan houses are within a neighborhood the Palestinians call
      >and the municipality calls "King's Valley." It's located inside the wadi
      >sloping down from the City of David, below the Old City, adjacent to the
      >compound settled by Jews from the non-profit organization Elad. Wadia al-Fahari,
      >who is coordinating residents' action, says that the neighborhood's earliest
      >houses date from the 1940s and '50s, and most houses were built in the late
      >1980s and early '90s on private land belonging to Silwan villagers.
      > Shetrit issued a letter in November 2004 "ordering the removal of
      >construction in King's Valley." Shetrit's letter explained that the area
      >is "the beginnings of Jerusalem" from 5,000 years ago, and that "King's
      >along with the tel of David's City, constitutes an entire archaeological
      >entity in which all of the sites are interconnected."
      > Shetrit wrote that a plan prepared in 1977 designated the area open
      >public territory. Shetrit told Haaretz that nearly all of the 88 houses
      >built illegally, except for "four to five single homes on the compound's
      >outskirts." He says he instructed city officials to deal "most forcefully"
      >with the code violations, and that the process of bringing law suits against
      >the Palestinian residents has begun.
      > Shetrit conceded there are other sites in East Jerusalem with more
      >illegal construction, but he decided to target the neighborhood in Silwan
      >to restore the region's ancient vistas.
      > "Kidron stream and Hinnom Valley are of tremendous historic and landscape
      >importance," he said. "I remember walking there 20 years ago and there were
      >gardens and running water. I want to return to that state."
      > Shetrit says he is relying on the fact that the 1977 plan designates
      >the area "green space," making any construction illegal. The city engineer
      >says he doesn't want to demolish homes built before 1967, but intends to
      >circumvent the statute of limitations that makes it impossible to raze houses
      >built more than seven years ago, even if built without permits. "The building
      >offense runs out, but there's no statute of limitations on using the illegal
      >house, so we can bar residents from entering their homes, even if we can't
      >destroy them," Shetrit says. He's hoping an abandoned house will prove easier
      >to destroy later on.
      > Shetrit's ultimate plan is to set up a national park on the land,
      >to the Jewish compound in the City of David and thereby creating an area
      >without Palestinian residents adjacent to the Old City, but Shetrit denies
      >that the organizations of Jewish settlers have any hand in the demolition
      > So far, some 30 court orders have been delivered. Fahari says residents
      >will use all legal means to resist "this terrible transfer" since "we have
      >nowhere to take our wives and children and old folks."
      > Attorney Sami Arshid, who represents some residents, says that demolition
      >proceedings have also begun against pre-1967 houses by utilizing an unusual
      >clause that permits a building to be razed without convicting the owners
      >of code violations. "You convict the stone, not the man," Arshid said.
      > Municipal sources said efforts are being made to locate substitute
      >government-owned land for the 1,000 residents.
      > The plan has raised concerns about the demolition's impact on Jewish-Arab
      >relations in Jerusalem. Shetrit is aware it could provoke protests and international
      >pressure, but says "he is determined to carry out the plan."

      > Last update - 09:46 01/06/2005
      > MKs to hold urgent debate on demolition of East Jerusalem homes
      > By Meron Rapaport, Haaretz Correspondent
      > The Knesset will Wednesday debate an urgent motion for the agenda
      >by MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) about the plan to destroy some 90 houses of
      >residents in Jerusalem's Silwan quarter.
      > Zahalka said the plan is a "declaration of war" on the Palestinians
      >of East Jerusalem and called on the owners of the houses earmarked for demolition
      >to entrench themselves inside to prevent the destruction.
      > MK Roman Bronfman (Yahad) wrote to Jerusalem City Engineer Uri Sheetrit,
      >who signed the letter ordering the demolitions, urging him to cancel his
      > "This is an ethnic cleansing and large-scale deportation that boggles
      >the mind," he wrote. "Such a plan can lead to a huge explosion, which the
      >Jerusalem municipality, and you particularly, would be held accountable
      > Bronfman addressed a copy of his letter to Jerusalem Affairs Minister
      >Tzachi Hanegbi.
      > Sheetrit remained adamant in his decision to destroy "the illegal
      >in the al-Bustan neighborhood, also called Emek Hamelech (Kings Valley).
      > Sheetrit told Haaretz over the weekend that Mayor Uri Lupolianski
      >aware of the demolition plan and supports it. One reason for demolishing
      >the structures is their location in a wadi and the risk to the residents
      >in case of a flood, he said. This reason was not mentioned in his letter
      >from December.
      > Dr. Meir Margalit of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions
      >(ICAHD) said the plan's real intention was not to save Jerusalem's "primordial
      >landscape," as the city engineer claims, but to wipe out the Palestinian
      >presence from East Jerusalem.
      > On Tuesday, some 300 Palestinians came to the tent set up in Silwan
      >to protest the demolition plan. Among them were Fatah and Palestinian Authority
      >representatives. Saeb Erekat, a member of the Palestinian negotiation team,
      >told the Associated Press that he calls on Israel to desist from the demolition
      >"to give peace a chance."


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