PMO: Sheikh Jarrah demolition 'in accordance with law'

In wake of int'l condemnation, Netanyahu's bureau defends construction of Jewish homes in e. J'lem neighborhood.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, MELANIE LIDMAN, KHALED ABU
January 10, 2011 13:57
2 minute read.
Demolition underway at e. J'lem Shepherd Hotel

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

 
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The Prime Minister's Office on Monday defended the bulldozing of the old Shepherd Hotel in east Jerusalem that has drawn international condemnation.

In a statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's bureau said that actions undertaken Sunday at the Shepherd Hotel were conducted by private individuals in accordance with Israeli law. The Israeli government was not involved."

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The statement went on to explain that "there should be no expectation that the State of Israel will impose a ban on Jews purchasing private property in Jerusalem. No democratic government would impose such a ban on Jews and Israel will certainly not do so."

"Just as Arab residents of Jerusalem can buy or rent property in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Jews can buy or rent property in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem," the statement added.

Earlier on Monday, Egypt and Jordan criticized Israel for the demolition, 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.


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.

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

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