June 24, 2010
In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday voiced concern that an Israeli plan to raze 22 Arab homes to make way for an archaeological park in annexed east Jerusalem is “unhelpful” and against international law.Ban “is deeply concerned about the decision by the Jerusalem Municipality to advance planning for house demolitions and further settlement activity in the area of Silwan in East Jerusalem,” the secretary general’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement. “The planned moves are contrary to international law, and to the wishes of Palestinian residents,” the statement said. Ban “reminds the Israeli Government of its responsibility to ensure provocative steps are not taken which would heighten tensions in the city. The current moves are unhelpful, coming at a time when the goal must be to build trust to support political negotiations,” the statement added. The park, which is planned for a crumbling Arab neighborhood just outside the walls of the Old City, was approved by Jerusalem city council on Monday in a move that drew criticism both at home and abroad. The plan was put before the city’s planning and building committee on Monday, which approved Gan Hamelech, the Hebrew name for an area outside the Old City known as Al-Bustan to its mostly Arab residents. Under the plan, 22 homes would be razed, while another 66 would be legalized. The 88 homes all had been slated for demolition because they were built without Israeli permits. The issue is all the more sensitive as most of the international community does not recognize Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem since June 1967.