Laborers work at a construction site in Har Homa, near Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi accused Israel of war crimes after the Jerusalem Municipality issued a construction permit for 143 apartment units in the Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa located over the pre-1967 lines on Monday.
“This latest development is an additional war crime as stipulated by the Rome Statute, and the occupation authorities will be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and other venues for its continued aggression on the lands and resources of the state of Palestine,” Ashrawi said.
According to Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, the construction permit was a technicality for a project that was marketed by the city years ago. She explained that a private contractor needed the permit for work that had already been authorized. The municipality made no comment.
Located on the city’s southern end, the Har Homa neighborhood of some 20,000 residents creates a wedge between Israeli-Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem from the nearby Palestinian city of Bethlehem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned Har Homa to the spotlight just one day before the March 17 election when he held a press conference and explained that he had created the neighborhood in 1997 to keep Jerusalem united and prevent portions of the capitol from becoming part of a future Palestinian state.
But just one week after the election, plans for an additional 1,500 new units in Har Homa were delayed.
Ashrawi said that any Israeli building in Har Homa was problematic.
“Netanyahu is sending a strong post-election message to the international community that he and his new government are more committed to a de facto one-state solution and the ‘Judaization’ of Jerusalem than pursuing the path to peace and abiding by international law and the principles of human rights,” Ashrawi said. “These deliberate and premeditated violations present a challenge to the United Nations, European Union and United States.”
The Palestinians have insisted that Israel must halt all Jewish building over the pre-1967 lines in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Last week the United Nations Human Rights Council, with the support of the European Union, called for a halt and a reversal of all such Jewish building.
On April 1, the Palestinian Authority formally joins the International Criminal Court, but it is not expected to take any action at this time, in exchange for Israel’s release of a large portion of its tax revenue.