>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 PalestineMeron
>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"al-Bustan"
>to demolish these 88 houses and today's article by Rapoport as to this morning's
>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 wadiillegal
>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 areaValley,
>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 archaeologicalwere
>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'sconnecting
>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 areafiled
>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 ofPalestinian
>residents in Jerusalem's Silwan quarter.for."
> 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
> Sheetrit remained adamant in his decision to destroy "the illegal
>in the al-Bustan neighborhood, also called Emek Hamelech (Kings Valley).is
> 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
> 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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