A seven-story building constructed by right-wing Israeli settlers on Palestinian land, in East Jerusalem in 2004, is moving toward receiving ‘retroactive approval,’ with the unexpected support of Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai. This support adds an air of legitimacy to the settler’s illegal maneuver.After US President Barack Obama’s retraction of his call, last year, that Israel freeze settlement expansion, construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has expanded exponentially. Israeli authorities have moved forward with the Jerusalem E1 Plan which was articulated in 2004, in which Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem would expand to ‘encircle’ Palestinian neighborhoods in an attempt to drive the Palestinians out and ‘Judaize’ Jerusalem.
The building in question is part of that plan. Located in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, the so-called ‘Beit Yonatan’ building was constructed on Palestinian land without permits, and used to house Yeshiva students. The Palestinian residents of Silwan have been forcibly removed from their homes, and many remain homeless.
Now, with the Interior Minister’s intervention, the illegal building is not likely to be demolished as planned. Instead, the Interior Minister has directed the Jerusalem planning committee to approve the settlement’s construction plan retroactively, and allow further construction on the site.
The building’s eviction order, which was supposed to be issued Monday morning, was called off, and right-wing Israeli settlers and their supporters gathered to cheer and celebrate at the site.