Egypt and Jordan condemn Shepherd Hotel demolition

Construction of Jewish homes in Sheikh Jarrah begins after hotel built by former mufti of J'lem is demolished; Clinton criticizes Israel on demolition

By MELANIE LIDMAN,
January 10, 2011 13:21
2 minute read.
Demolition underway at e. J'lem Shepherd Hotel

Shepherd Hotel demolition 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Egypt and Jordan on Monday criticized Israel for its bulldozing of the old Shepherd Hotel in east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, AFP reported. The two countries also warned against a violent backlash in the wake of the demolition.

The Egyptian Foreign Affairs issued a statement claiming that continuing Israeli settlement projects will cause a "new explosion of violence" in the West Bank.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also strongly criticized Israel for the demolition of the vacant but historic hotel in east Jerusalem, saying that the move undermines US efforts to restart stalled peace talks.

In a statement released from Abu Dhabi, where she was beginning a tour of the Persian Gulf, Clinton said late Sunday that the destruction of the Shepherd Hotel to make way for a new Jewish housing development "contradicts the logic" of Israel and the Palestinians negotiating a solution to their differences over Jerusalem, one of the most explosive issues in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Clinton said the United States is "very concerned" about the demolition.

Demolition of the Shepherd Hotel, in east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, began at dawn on Sunday.

It came after a long battle over construction rights that drew condemnation from US President Barack Obama and other leaders around the world over the past few years.

The hotel, which was built in the 1930s by the mufti of Jerusalem Haj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini (1921- 1948), was bought in 1985 by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz, who has bankrolled other Jewish housing projects in Arab neighborhoods in the capital. Moskowitz, partnering with the Ateret Cohanim organization, plans to turn the complex into 20 apartments for religious Jewish families.

The building received a construction permit from the municipality six months ago, the last stamp of approval needed before construction can begin.

Construction was delayed for six months over a dispute with a son of Faisal al-Husseini (1940-2001), a cousin of Haj Husseini and a former Palestinian Authority minister for Jerusalem affairs, who claimed that the family owned part of the parking lot that will serve as an entrance to the future complex. They lost the court case about a month ago, allowing Moskowitz to start demolishing the building.

On Sunday, only the right side of the building was demolished. Because of its historical value, the façade of the left part will be remain intact.

Herb Keinon, AP and Jpost.com Staff contributed to this report


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