Israel urged to halt building illegal settlements

BRUSSELS: The European Union criticized Israel Thursday for the “worrying trend of increasing numbers of demolitions and evictions in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem,” just a day after police destroyed a Palestinian home in the flashpoint neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
In a statement, EU spokesperson Peter Stano said the decision by the municipality to “advance a plan for the construction of more than 1,450 settlement-housing units” in East Jerusalem “undermines the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States.”
In a separate statement, the foreign ministries of France, Germany, Italy and Spain urged Israeli authorities on Wednesday evening to stop the construction of new housing units in East Jerusalem.
Earlier in the month, Israeli authorities approved plans for the construction of around 3,500 homes in occupied East Jerusalem, nearly half of which are to be built in the controversial areas of Givat Hamatos and Har Homa.
The European countries said that the hundreds of new buildings would “constitute an additional obstacle to the two-state solution,” referring to international peace efforts to create a state for Palestinians, according to Reuters.
The ministers said that building in this area would further disconnect the West Bank from East Jerusalem and that the settlements are a violation of international law. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Israel captured East Jerusalem including the Old City in a 1967 war and later annexed it, a move not recognized internationally.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem for the capital of a state they seek in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which abuts the city, and the Gaza Strip. Israel views the entire city as its indivisible capital.
Most world powers deem the Israeli settlements illegal for taking territory where Palestinians seek statehood.
The European countries, as well as Turkey, also expressed concern about the evictions and demolitions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where residents say they are being displaced.
Earlier Wednesday, Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their East Jerusalem home – which they say they had lived in for decades – before a digger tore down the property, prompting criticism from rights activists and diplomats.
Turkey strongly condemned Israel’s forced eviction of a Palestinian family, with its Foreign Ministry underlining that the decisions that lead to the eviction and displacement of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and other parts of the occupied territories “contravene international law and human rights.”
“Israel’s unilateral practices, which erode the demographic and legal status of Jerusalem, undermine the vision of a two-state solution and the ground for lasting peace,” it said in a statement released Wednesday
Israeli police went to the home of the Salhiyeh family before dawn, assaulted a number of its occupants and demolished their home after the forced evacuation, Walid Tayeh, the family’s lawyer, told Anadolu Agency (AA). The Salhiyeh family said they had been living in the home since 1948 after they were expelled from the Ein Karem neighborhood of West Jerusalem.
Since 1956, a total of 37 Palestinian families have been living in 27 homes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah. The neighborhood was annexed by Israel in 1967 in a move not recognized by most of the international community.
Israeli Jewish settlers, backed by Israeli courts, have taken over houses in Sheikh Jarrah on the grounds that Jewish families lived there before fleeing during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. However, no such protection exists for Palestinians who lost their land.