Activists protest Palestinian home demolitions in front of Barkat’s Jerusalem house

"The mayor is advancing a racist policy that is unacceptable to most Israelis to make personal political gains," says Free Jerusalem.

Demonstrators protest in front of Barkat’s Jerusalem home on Tuesday night. (photo credit: AMIR PAVILION)
Demonstrators protest in front of Barkat’s Jerusalem home on Tuesday night.
(photo credit: AMIR PAVILION)
Dozens of activists from the left-wing NGO Free Jerusalem gathered in front of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s home in the capital on Tuesday night to protest increasing Arab home demolitions.
According to Free Jerusalem’s spokeswoman Michal Haramati, the municipality has recently expedited home demolitions of Arab residents who were forced to construct the illegal structures due to the inability to lawfully procure building permits from the city.
Haramati claimed the right-wing mayor – who is rumored to be interested in running for national office – is now cynically increasing home demolitions to garner support in the Likud.
“In the last month in east Jerusalem, there has been a major issue with increased Palestinian home demolitions, but the municipality is consistently not giving building permits to Arab residents and not planning appropriately for their housing needs,” she said on Wednesday.
“It’s impossible [for east Jerusalem Arabs] to get a permit to begin with, and the result is that they have no choice but to build to accommodate their families, and end up paying hundreds of thousands of shekels to appeal the demolitions in court, which only postpones them.
“He’s gone further to the Right over the last month,” Haramati said of the mayor.
Moreover, Haramati said the mayor is flagrantly advancing a “racist policy” for political gain, a policy that is unacceptable to most Israelis.
“The situation is intolerable, and we are asking for decent planning [for east Jerusalem Arab home construction], and to recognize their needs,” she said.
Barkat has repeatedly denied that home demolitions and housing permits are based on politics, and has claimed that there have been more demolitions in west Jerusalem than in the eastern part of the capital over the past three years.
“Contrary to the claims raised, demolitions in the eastern part of the city as a percentage of citywide zoning enforcement have decreased compared to previous years,” he said in a statement.
“The city does not discriminate based on race, religion or gender in the granting of building permits or in zoning regulation enforcement,” the statement continued.
“The municipality will continue to enforce the law equally in all parts of the city, preserving public areas for the benefit of local communities.”