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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Data Scientist

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen