Israel Approves Plan to Demolish Palestinian Squatters' Homes
Israeli plans to raze the homes of Palestinian squatters in eastern Jerusalem, and resettle them. This includes replacing roads, and sewer infrastructure, adding municipal services, hotels, and an archaeological park. Jerusalem Israel. 21/06/2010
Israel on Monday approved a stage in plans to demolish the homes of 88 Palestinian squatters in eastern Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood.
The Jerusalem Municipality says it wants to move the residents temporarily during construction, and then relocate them at the same location, but in better housing. The master plan includes replacing roads, water and sewer infrastructure, adding municipal services, hotels, and an archaeological park.
Jerusalem Mayor Barkat spearheaded the plan when it was first announced in March, 2010, despite international, local and Palestinian pressure to shelve the idea.
Moments before the project was announced at a city council session, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contacted Barkat, and asked that he put the plan on hold indefinitely.
On Monday, June 21 the city approved a plan for demolishing the homes and apartment buildings of the predominantly Arab neighborhood.
"The PMO expresses the hope that the dialogue will continue with those who built their homes on public land in violation of the law and that an agreed upon solution will be found that will keep in line with the law," a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.
Netanyahu had asked Barkat in March to find a better housing solution for some 750 Arabs living in 88 structures on the King's Garden or al-Bustan area, some of the buildings slated to be demolished in the comprehensive upgrade over the next decade.
"I'm happy to accept the prime minister's request," said Barkat at the news conference.
Barkat insisted "the plan is for the benefit of the residents, alongside the importance of developing the area for the benefit of the world, for the benefit of tourists and for the beauty of Jerusalem."
But local residents are skeptical of Israel's promises and intentions.
"I haven't seen any master plan for eastern Jerusalem for 43 years, not in the past and not in the future," said Daoud Siyam, a local Arab resident living in a house slated for demolition.
Barkat "tries to sell his stinking, filthy game that we've been hearing since 1967," Siyam told this reporter.
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