Israel demolishes historic hotel for new settlements

Israeli authorities leveled the hotel to build 20 buildings for Jewish settlers.

Israel demolishes historic hotel for new settlements

Israeli bulldozers demolished the Shepherd Hotel in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday under the protection of a huge force of Israeli police and border guards in a move that angered Palestinians and drawn U.S. objections.

Israeli authorities leveled the hotel to make way for a new settlement. The initial plan is to build 20 buildings for Jewish settlers.

US President Barack Obama's administration urged Israel to stop the plan. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused the request.

In the predominantly Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, bulldozers tore into the hotel owned by Muslim grand mufti Haj Amin Husseini in the 1930s, who fought the British and Zionists.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the demolition of the hotel. "As long as this government continues with settlement and acts like the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel there will no negotiations," he said.

The Shepherd Hotel project is funded by Jewish American millionaire Irving Moskowitz, a longtime patron of Jewish settlers.

Settler groups have been moving Israeli families into Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, attempting to change the feature of the occupied city.

"We see this matter as extremely dangerous," said Hatem Abdel Qader, the Palestinian official who oversees Jerusalem affairs for President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.

Israel, Abdel Qader said, was trying to "create a belt of settlements" around East Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek as the capital of the state they intend to create in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu rejected calls from the US, UN and the EU to extend a partial freeze on settlement construction which expired on September 26.

On December 7, Washington admitted it had failed to convince Netanyahu to stop building on occupied land, a policy which contravenes international law and the Geneva Convention.

Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian Authority-appointed mayor of Jerusalem, said knocking down the historic building was an "act of barbarism".

In 2010 alone, Israel destroyed nearly 40 Palestinian homes and 90 shops in occupied East Jerusalem, with the dramatic increase of razing homes giving rise to concerns about Israel's plan to remove the Palestinians from the occupied city and judaize the Palestinians' demanded capital.

A recent report by the United Nations warned that almost a quarter of the 250,000 Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem are at the risk of having their homes leveled by Israel.


Agencies

Last Mod: 10 Ocak 2011, 09:48
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