According to a recent report issued by the Bethlehem-based Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ), the infamous Israeli multimillionaire Irwin Moskowitz has new plans for judaizing more and more areas of Arab east Jerusalem.
The report uncovers a "unilateral and detrimental scheme supported entirely by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality to build and further expand illegal neighborhoods in Occupied east Jerusalem’s neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah."
Under the illegal Israeli "Absentee Property” law, Israeli housing authorities have already issued an order for the demolition of the Shepard hotel, which was "bought" by Moskowitz in 1985, despite the fact that the descendants of the rightful owner of the hotel (Grand Mufti Al-Haj Amin Al-Husseini) are still alive and resident in occupied Arab east Jerusalem.
The proposed plan seeks to build a housing complex on 30 dunums of land (including land the hotel currently occupies), which will comprise 90 housing units including a kindergarten and a synagogue.
Since the beginning of the Palestinian uprising in late 2000, MIFTAH has repeatedly warned members of the international community about Israel’s continuous and concentrated efforts to judaize, seal off and eventually drive out the 260,000 indigenous Arab inhabitants of east Jerusalem.
At a briefing in late July to the diplomatic corps in Jerusalem, MIFTAH’s Secretary-General (and Palestinian Legislative Council member) Dr. Hanan Ashrawi explicitly warned that the state of Israel was in a mad rush to create new facts on the ground, especially in Arab east Jerusalem, and will "try to maximize geography while minimizing demography." This process became more and more apparent to Palestinians while the world’s attention was diverted by Israel’s internationally- acclaimed unilateral disengagement from Gaza.
During the disengagement period (15th August to 3rd September 2005), Israeli authorities confiscated more than 1,585 dunnums (approximately 400 acres) of Palestinian land in east Jerusalem: 87 dunnums (22 acres) from the Mount of Olives neighborhood, 477 dunnums (119 acres) from Al-Izariyyah neighborhood, 809 dunnums (202 acres) from Abu Dis neighborhood, and 212 dunnums (53 acres) from Al-Sawahra Al-Sharqiyyah neighborhood.
The recent report by ARIJ represents many things: first, the fact that this proposed new settlement is to be built in the heart of Arab east Jerusalem can only be understood as a provocation by the State of Israel under the leadership of a Prime Minister who supposedly adheres to the Road Map and who has, ironically enough, created a new political party on the platform of making peace with Palestinians.
Second, the fact that these plans have been recently unveiled, that is, after the unilateral disengagement from Gaza, represents Israel’s continuing deceit, lack of good will, and unwillingness to adhere to the road map that might bring about a peaceful solution to this decades-old conflict.
Lastly, it is imperative to stress that the act of illegal colonisation contravenes scores of international agreements, most prominently the Fourth Geneva Conventions (governing the laws of armed combat) and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. More to the point, the settlements are in direct contravention of two resolutions that were specifically issued on the legal status of Jerusalem, namely Security Council resolution 446 and General Assembly Resolution 2254.
Enough is enough; it is time for the international community to stop the State of Israel from its illegal colonisation and land acquisition policies in Jerusalem, before too many more “facts” are put on the ground. If peace is still the objective, the international community needs to be firm with Israel to make it unequivocally halt all its expansionist and colonial policies. It is time for the world to stand up and tell Sharon enough is enough; it is time for the world to make him, and his government, sit down and negotiate in good faith with the Palestinian National Authority, or face a long awaited and overdue Chapter 7 Security Council Resolution.