UN voices concern over demolitions settlement approval in East Jerusalem

13 July 2010The United Nations today expressed concern over the demolition by Israeli authorities of buildings, including homes, and the approval of the construction of a new settlement in East Jerusalem, urging all parties to respect international law and avoid provocative actions. “I continue to follow with concern developments in East Jerusalem and continuing tensions in the city. The approval of new units in the settlement of Pisgat Zeev, in violation of Israel’s Roadmap commitments, is wrong,” said Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.The Roadmap is the internationally approved plan for a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict.“I am also concerned at reports of house demolitions today,” said Mr. Serry, who added that his office is closely monitoring the fate of four members of the Palestinian Legislative Council who face the threat of expulsion from the city.Israel is reportedly considering revoking the residency permits of Muhammad Abu-Teir, Ahmad Attoun, Muhammad Totah, and Khaled Abu Arafeh, all current or former members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and long-time residents of East Jerusalem. The Israeli High Court of Justice is scheduled to consider their case on 6 September.“At the current juncture, it is essential for all parties to respect international law, refrain from provocative actions, and take positive steps to build confidence and create an environment conducive to successful negotiations,” Mr. Serry said in a statement.Israeli bulldozers have reportedly demolished six buildings, including at least three homes, in East Jerusalem today.According to an April 2009 report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli authorities have, since 1967, demolished thousands of Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied Palestinian territory, including an estimated 2,000 houses in East Jerusalem.Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 and unilaterally annexed to its territory 70.5 square kilometres of the occupied area, which were subsequently integrated within the Jerusalem municipality. Irrespective of Israel’s annexation, East Jerusalem is still considered part of the occupied Palestinian territory and its Palestinian residents remain protected by international humanitarian law, the report noted. read more