Palestine warns against Israeli threats to demolish buildings in East Jerusalem

RAMALLAH, July 21 (Xinhua) — The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Sunday warned against Israel’s threat to demolish 10 other buildings in East Jerusalem’s Sur Baher town, urging international investigation into the issue.

“The demolitions … are considered a war crime under international laws and this needs dispatching a monitoring and investigation committee and providing the Palestinian people with international protection,” the Human Rights and Civil Society Department of the PLO said in a statement.

Israeli authorities, however, claim that the 10 buildings home to around 70 families were constructed without permits.

The majority of the buildings are located in area (A) which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority and in area (B) which is under the joint control of Israel and Palestine. Only two are located in area (C).

Under the interim Oslo Agreement signed between the PLO and the Israeli government in 1993, the West Bank was divided into three areas: the area (A) under Palestinian control, the area (B) under Palestinian and Israeli control and the area (C) under full Israeli control.

Israel has sealed off the area since the notice of a demolition order expired on Thursday.

On Sunday, Israeli high court rejected an appeal to freeze the demolition order submitted by the Palestinians.

Under the pretext of illegal construction, Israel frequently demolishes homes and structures belonging to Palestinians. Palestinians say this is a systematic policy that aims at restricting their expansion in occupied Jerusalem in order to offset the demographic balance in favor of the Jewish settlers in the occupied city.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has approved only 1.5 percent of the construction permits requested by the Palestinians.

In contrast, the Israeli government approves thousands of housing units in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem for Jewish settlers, including hundreds built without permits.

Israel has denied Palestinians in East Jerusalem citizenship rights since the city was annexed in 1967. Instead, it only granted the Palestinians limited “residents” status which can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, while Israel wants all Jerusalem to be its eternal capital.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and declared the entire city as its eternal indivisible capital in 1980, a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

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