Israeli cabinet endorses law making judaizing Jerusalem a national priority
TEL AVIV — Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday backed a bill to define Jerusalem as a national priority area, Israeli press reported.
Among other financial benefits, the proposal would give priority to construction in Jerusalem, including in occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli news site Ynet said. Further, the bill’s creators said it would lead to an increase in the number of Jews in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek as the capital of their state, Ynet reported.
MK Uri Ariel, who proposed the bill, said it would lead to “a change in the demographic balance” of the city. The bill has secured wide-spread support in the Knesset, where it will face a preliminary vote on Wednesday, the report added.
Palestinian leaders have repeatedly denounced what they say is a policy of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem. President Mahmoud Abbas told leaders at a recent Arab League summit that home demolitions, evictions, land confiscation, and settlement building had become daily occurrences in the city.
Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem following the 1967 war, a move not recognized by the international community. The UN considers East Jerusalem to be under occupation, and recently condemned Israel’s settlement enterprise in the area as a violation of international law. The fate of Jerusalem is one of the six final-status issues to be agreed in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
UN envoy Richard Falk said Friday that “the extension of the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem by way of unlawful settlements, house demolitions, revocations of Palestinian residence rights, makes it increasingly difficult to envisage a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.”
Israel’s recent approval of 240 new housing units in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem was denounced by the international community. The US conveyed its “disappointment” to Israel over the move, which US State Department spokesman Philip J Crowley described as “contrary to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties.”
Meanwhile, Israeli forces handed several demolition notices to Palestinian families on Sunday in Al-Bustan in Silwan, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Head of the committee defending Silwan homes Fakhri Abu Diab said a large force of Israeli border guards ransacked the area, using homes as vantage points to fire tear-gas canisters, stun-grenades and rubber bullets “in all directions.”