J'lem Mayor Clarifies Demolitions

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - The Jerusalem municipality called media response to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement on Palestinian home demolitions "disinformation and the cynical exploitation" of her visit.

Clinton remarked on home demolitions at a press conference in Ramallah on Wednesday following meetings with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, his aid Saeb Erekat, and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

"This kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the [U.S.-backed] road map [for peace plan]," Clinton told reporters.

"It's an issue we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the government at the municipal level in Jerusalem," she said.

The left-wing Hebrew language daily Haaretz wrote that "Israel had issued orders for the demolition of 80 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem it says were built illegally. But Palestinians say they cannot get proper building permits from Israeli authorities, and the planned demolitions are means to assert Israeli control over the disputed city."

The wire services carried the same misinformation.

Stephan Miller, spokesman for Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, said that since January, the city has authorized 28 demolitions of illegally constructed, empty buildings: 11 in the western end of the city and 17 in east Jerusalem.

"According to administrative procedure, orders can be given to stop work on illegal construction and the beginning and throughout the construction process," Miller said.

"Often, illegal construction has come at the expense of public land designated for the residents themselves," he said.

"According to the mayor of Jerusalem, administrative orders have been issued to unlicensed buildings continuing the construction process throughout all of Jerusalem, west and east, without bias," Miller said.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, israel national news, Haaretz

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