Threat to peace talks as Israelis demolish home

Israeli bulldozers razed six buildings in East Jerusalem, including three Palestinian homes, marking the end of Israeli efforts to refrain from contentious demolitions that could undermine peace talks.

With excavators preparing to tear down one of the homes in Beit Hanina, a Palestinian suburb of Arab-dominated East Jerusalem, relatives and friends were given just one hour to save the belongings of the owners, who were out at the time.

Amid the Obama administration's intensified efforts to bring the two sides back to direct talks after an 18-month hiatus, the renewed demolitions sparked fresh international condemnation of Israel's policies towards Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, said the demolitions were "counterproductive". "Settlements and demolition of houses are illegal ... they constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible," he said in Brussels.

Jerusalem remains the most contested issue of any eventual peace deal. Israel claims East Jerusalem – which it captured and annexed after the Six Day War in 1967 – as its "indivisible" capital. The Palestinians claim it as the capital of a future independent state. The international community regards it as occupied territory.

After rushing back from the doctors to her Beit Hanina street yesterday lunchtime, Dalel Al-Rajabi collapsed to her knees, sobbing as she surveyed the mangled metal and masonry that had been her home.

Comforted by friends and relatives, she was helped over to what had been her front door and seated on furniture salvaged from her home, little more than a shack with a corrugated-iron roof. She said it was the second time in four years that the Israeli authorities had destroyed her residence. "They gave me no warning," Mrs Al-Rajabi said, in tears and holding her crying two-month-old baby in her arms. "My children and I are on the street. Where will we live?"

The Jerusalem municipality yesterday denied that it had destroyed any homes that were inhabited, despite claims that a second house was also lived in. Palestinians admit they build homes without permits, but argue that it is impossible to obtain permission from the Israeli authorities to build, even when they own the land.

The resumption of demolitions underscore the determination of Nir Barkat, Jerusalem's hardline mayor, to press on with plans to tear down illegally built Palestinian homes despite strong resistance in Washington. Critics have assailed a policy that discriminates against Palestinians at the same time as approving thousands of new Jewish homes in East Jerusalem.

The demolitions come just one week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met President Barack Obama in Washington in an effort to smooth relations strained by a row over ill-timed Jewish construction in East Jerusalem.

In a report last year, the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance said that there were 1,500 pending demolition orders in East Jerusalem. Washington has urged Israel to refrain from any provocations that could undermine the resumption of peace talks, including demolitions.

The US has also leaned on Mr Netanyahu to cease Jewish construction in East Jerusalem, which critics say is aimed at undermining the Palestinian claim to the eastern party of the city.

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: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power