Jerusalem goes ahead with disputed building idea

A controversial plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes for a tourist centre in Jerusalem's eastern sector was approved by the mayor today.









Nir Barkat's decision threatened to raise tensions and draw renewed international fire on the heels of the Israeli sea raid.



Mr Barkat first floated the plan months ago, but agreed to a last-minute request from Israel's prime minister to consult Palestinian residents. Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes has previously brought harsh international reaction.



Palestinians hope to build the capital of a future state in east Jerusalem and see any Israeli construction there as undercutting their claims to the land. Although Israel claims it is simply enforcing the law by knocking down illegally built structures, many of the unapproved homes have gone up without authorisation because Palestinians have a hard time obtaining building permits in east Jerusalem.



Mr Barkat says the plan gives a much-needed facelift to Jerusalem's decaying al-Bustan neighbourhood, which Israel calls Gan Hamelech, or the King's Garden.



The plan calls for shops, restaurants, art galleries and a large community centre on the site where some say the biblical King David wrote his psalms. The 22 displaced families would be allowed to build homes elsewhere in the district, although it is not clear who would pay for them.



Israel annexed east Jerusalem immediately after capturing it from Jordan in the 1967 war.



Israeli sovereignty there has not been recognised by the Palestinians or the international community, and the fate of the city is the most charged issue dividing the two sides. Nearly 200,000 Jews have moved to east Jerusalem since Israel captured it, living in an uneasy coexistence with 250,000 Palestinians.



Activists in Al-Bustan, who had sought to block the demolitions, said that the plan "comes in the general context of (the) fast-track Judaisation" of east Jerusalem.



It pre-empts "the possibility of Jerusalem ever being a shared city, or indeed capital of a Palestinian state. This in itself precludes peace."



The contested site is a section of a larger area called Silwan, which is home to some 50,000 Palestinians and 70 Jewish families. Demolitions elsewhere in Silwan have made it a hub of tension between Palestinians fearful of eviction and Jews determined to keep the city Israel's undivided capital.



Apparently fearing stiff criticism from the US, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressured Mr Barkat in March to hold up the plan to consult with Palestinians who stood to lose their homes.



"Now, after fine-tuning the plan and seeking more cooperation with the residents as far as their needs and improving the quality of their lives, the municipality is ready to submit the plans for the first stage of approval," the mayor's spokesman said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator - Financial Services

£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Administrator

£8000 - £10800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Supply Chain Administrator is ...

Recruitment Genius: Client IT Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client IT Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor