ZOA Protests U.S. Pressure On Israel To Stop Dismantling Illegal Arab Houses In Jerusalem
August 19, 2003

NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly protested the Bush administration’s pressure on Israel to stop dismantling illegal Arab houses in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post reports (Aug.18, 2003) that “diplomats from the U.S. consulate met recently with Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski to express their deep concern at the increase in the number of house demolitions in Arab neighborhoods of the city. The American diplomats complained that the demolitions threatened US efforts to implement the road map.”

A senior official of the Jerusalem Municipality told the Post: “Thousands of houses have been built without permits, sometimes with the help of the Palestinian Authority and some Arab countries. It’s clear that we are facing a serious problem. What we are doing is enforcing the law.” The Post quoted another Jerusalem Municipality official as expressing outrage at this U.S. intervention in Israel’s internal affairs. “What would the Americans say if we told them not to enforce the law against offenders in Washington?”

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein commented: “The Israeli government has a right—indeed, an obligation according to its own laws—to take action against illegal construction. The problem is especially serious because the Palestinian Authority and other Arab regimes finance such construction in order to undermine Israel’s hold on Jerusalem. The position of the United States Congress—as expressed in the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act—is that the U.S. should recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol and should move its embassy there. For the Bush administration to be pressuring Israel to permit the PA to gradually take over parts of Jerusalem through illegal construction clearly violates the spirit of that U.S. law.”

* The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs recently issued a report by Justus R. Weiner documenting the problem of illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem. He reported that there were 4,000 building violations in Arab neighborhoods in the city from 1996-2001, and that aerial photographs indicate the actual number of violations is three times that number. Dr. Weiner has said that “the PA plays a major role in providing funds from the Arab world for massive illegal construction within the city.” (IMRA, Dec.31, 2002)

* PA FINANCES THE CONSTRUCTION: Then-Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert said (Ynet, Jan.15, 2002): “We know that the PA has supported and encouraged illegal construction… The illegal buildings are mostly built not by private citizens, but by gangster contractors who build on land that is not theirs—with the hidden backing and bribing of the Palestinian Authority.”

* ARABS BUILDING “AT A DIZZYING RATE”: Ha’aretz, June 5, 2000: “Illegal Arab construction has expanded to a magnitude hitherto unknown, with the backing of the Palestinian Authority … The Palestinians are building at a dizzying rate … In East Jerusalem and particularly the northern part of the city, apartment buildings are going up that are uninhabited.”

* 20,000 ILLEGAL ARAB BUILDINGS: Ha’aretz, March 1, 2000: “The Interior Ministry has counted 20,000 illegally built structures standing today in [Arab sections of] East Jerusalem. The number of illegal buildings swelled in 1999, with a new trend of multi-story structures going up with the encouragement of the Palestinian Authority.”

* A STRUGGLE FOR CONTROL OF JERUSALEM: “Israeli officials said the Palestinian Authority is encouraging illegal construction in Jerusalem as part of a struggle over the control of the city.” (Middle East Newsline, Nov.16, 1999)

* PART OF THE PA’S PLAN: Israel Television Channel One, Sept. 10, 1998: “A Palestinian construction surge can be seen in Jerusalem’s Old City. During the last year, thousands of houses have been expanded in the Old City without licenses, with Palestinian Authority financing. A year ago, Channel One uncovered the PA’s plan for widescale construction within the Old City to the tune of millions of dollars. Today, we visited the area to see whether this plan is being implemented. The picture emerging is that the Old City is being rebuilt. We were informed that with the help of mysterious funds, the PA is financing the construction of thousands of housing units. Most of the new housing units have been built without building licenses. According tot he law, it is absolutely forbidden to build on top of existing houses inside the Old City … Some houses have been built within one month.”

* SAUDIS HELP FUND CONSTRUCTION: Saudi Arabia donated $19-million “to build 600 Arab homes in Jerusalem and strengthen their hold over parts of the city,” according to the then-PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Faisal Husseini. (Jerusalem Post, June 24, 1997)

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