(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Illegally built homes in east Jerusalem will be demolished in the coming days, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced on Wednesday.
Aharonovitch made the comments in response to a question from MK Yariv Levin (Likud), who said the Jerusalem Municipality was not carrying out orders issued against Arab homes. The minister said there had been delays in carrying out the orders due to diplomatic concerns, but that the concerns no longer applied and that the demolitions would go ahead.
“Police have no instructions to refrain from carrying out the demolitions. They will be carried in the coming days,” Aharonovitch said.
“There were times when the political echelon thought the timing for implementing the orders was inappropriate, because of diplomatic processes. The orders were not canceled, but were delayed. If there were such delays, they are no longer in effect.”
The minister stressed that the Israel Police was not responsible for “activating” the demolition orders, and that the police’s mission was to assist in their implementation.
Activists who oppose such demolitions, however, cried foul at the minister’s remarks, claiming that such demolitions were a continuation of the status quo and would harm the proximity talks with the Palestinian Authority.
“Essentially, the resumption of house demolitions goes to show that Israel really isn’t serious about negotiations,” Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“Aharonovitch says that there are no legal impediments to carrying out demolitions, but that’s not true,” Halper continued.
“The first phase of the road map, which is officially still in effect,
calls for the cessation of house demolitions and other steps that
undermine trust between the two sides.
“That said, this is obviously not a legal or technical issue, but a
political one,” he added. “It’s always been political. This is a way of
Israel asserting that it’s the owner of Jerusalem, it will do what it
wants to do here, and that the city is outside of negotiations.
“It has nothing to do with the police and certainly has nothing to
with... urban [planning],” Halper said. “It’s simply a continuation of
the same thing.”