J'lem Municipality Refutes BBC Commentator

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's office responded to allegations by BBC's Jane Corbin that demolitions of homes in east Jerusalem "have been increasing in recent days."

"Demolitions [in east Jerusalem neighborhoods] have been increasing in recent days, and in fact, we've got hold of a list that shows there's another 40 to go before the end of the year," Corbin said on BBC Panorama's 'A Walk in a Jerusalem Park' on January 18.

"That's because the municipal government has a budget that it has to use up for demolitions," Corbin said.

The mayor's office issued the following statement in response to Corbin's accusations.

"The amount of demolitions carried out by the Jerusalem Municipality every year is determined solely by the number of illegally constructed buildings erected by those residents who flouted the law.

"The number of structural demolitions conducted in eastern Jerusalem by the Jerusalem Municipality actually decreased in 2009 - from 86 in 2008 to 65 in 2009, a 25 percent decrease.

"Further, there is simply no connection whatsoever between the annual budget of the Jerusalem Municipality and the number of demolitions conducted.

"Throughout the program, Ms. Corbin presents a completely and utterly false representation of the facts and a distasteful distortion of reality.

"In addition, it would be prudent to ask Ms. Corbin what happened to her alleged list of 40 planned demolitions since her filming in late 2009. You'll easily find yet another one of her distasteful distortions," the statement concluded.

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