MKs to hold urgent debate on demolition of East Jerusalem homes

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MKs to hold urgent debate on demolition of East Jerusalem homes
01 June 2005
By Meron Rapaport, Haaretz The Knesset will Wednesday debate an urgent motion for the agenda filed by MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) about the plan to destroy some 90 houses of Palestinian residents in Jerusalem's Silwan quarter. Zahalka said the plan is a "declaration of war" on the Palestinians of East Jerusalem and called on the owners of the houses earmarked for demolition to entrench themselves inside to prevent the destruction. MK Roman Bronfman (Yahad) wrote to Jerusalem City Engineer Uri Sheetrit, who signed the letter ordering the demolitions, urging him to cancel his decision. "This is an ethnic cleansing and large-scale deportation that boggles the mind," he wrote. "Such a plan can lead to a huge explosion, which the Jerusalem municipality, and you particularly, would be held accountable for." Bronfman addressed a copy of his letter to Jerusalem Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi. Sheetrit remained adamant in his decision to destroy "the illegal buildings" in the al-Bustan neighborhood, also called Emek Hamelech (Kings Valley). Sheetrit told Haaretz over the weekend that Mayor Uri Lupolianski is aware of the demolition plan and supports it. One reason for demolishing the structures is their location in a wadi and the risk to the residents in case of a flood, he said. This reason was not mentioned in his letter from December. Dr. Meir Margalit of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) said the plan's real intention was not to save Jerusalem's "primordial landscape," as the city engineer claims, but to wipe out the Palestinian presence from East Jerusalem. On Tuesday, some 300 Palestinians came to the tent set up in Silwan to protest the demolition plan. Among them were Fatah and Palestinian Authority representatives. Saeb Erekat, a member of the Palestinian negotiation team, told the Associated Press that he calls on Israel to desist from the demolition "to give peace a chance." Original article:

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