Israel is shocked by international criticism of the demolition of a Jewish-owned property in Jerusalem.
“Calling Jerusalem a settlement is a misinterpretation, an insult to the history of the city,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the French news agency AFP. “It is incomprehensible that they are mixing questions of private rights, international law and politics,” he added.
He was reacting to European Union and American condemnation of Israel for Sunday’s demolition of the old and unused Shepherd Hotel. The lot is owned by Irving Moskowitz, an American Jew and a strong supporter of a Jewish presence in all of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Plans were approved last year to demolish the building in order to allow the construction of a Jewish housing complex.
The Prime Minister’s Bureau pointed out in a statement that the government was not involved in the demolition and that it was carried out “in accordance with Israeli law. There should be no expectation that the State of Israel will impose a ban on Jews purchasing private property in Jerusalem. No democratic government would impose such a ban on Jews and Israel will certainly not do so.
“Just as Arab residents of Jerusalem can buy or rent property in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem,” the statement continued, “Jews can buy or rent property in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the demolition a “disturbing development,” while Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief of the EU, repeated her oft-stated stand that ”settlements are illegal under international law, undermine trust between the parties and constitute an obstacle to peace.”
The EU, the United States and the United Nations does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over what it calls “East Jerusalem,” meaning large areas of southern, northern and eastern Jerusalem that were restored to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967. The term “settlement” also has been used by U.S. President Barack Obama when referring to United Jerusalem.
An internal EU memo suggested that the group of countries might post observers in Jerusalem, but officials said that the only thing new about the proposal is that it was leaked to the media.
The Arab world joined the condemnation of the demolition, with the Arab Monitor stating that the demolished building was on an “historic site.” The adjacent hotel was the former home of the Mufti of Jerusalem, known for his close ties with Hitler.
Egypt raised the threat of “a new explosion of violence” because of the demolition, which marks progress in Moskowitz’s plan to build 20 residential units on the site. Jordan warned that “instability” in the region would follow.
The old Shepherd Hotel, in the Shimon HaTzaddik-Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was brought down today (Sunday) by bulldozers in preparation for the construction on the site of a new, 20-unit housing project. The hotel was the former home of Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem who engineered the murderous riots against Jews in 1929 and 1936. During World War II, Husseini met with Hitler and mobilized Muslim support for the Nazis among Muslims.”It is very symbolic,” said Daniel Lurie, Executive Director of the Ateret Cohanim Association, “that the home of this former Nazi sympathizer is being razed – even so many years later – to make way for Jews to return to Jerusalem.
Watching the hotel go down, Lurie said, “This building is a symbol of genocide; Husseini was practically a full-fledged Nazi; the British arrested him for starting pogroms in the 1920’s, and he established on his own a unit that murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews in Yugoslavia during World War II… The Jews are now returning to our natural home; no one can claim that Jerusalem is not Jewish, and this particular spot is in the heart of Jerusalem. Some Arabs live here, but it is a Jewish area; Simon the Just is buried here, Jews live right below, the Police Headquarters are located nearby. The natural process of the Jews returning home is continuing, and with G-d’s help it will pick up even more steam.”
The Shepherd Hotel was purchased by Dr. Irving Moskowitz of the U.S. back in 1985. His plans to build Jewish homes there met up with various bureaucratic and political obstacles, but now – 25 years later – they have begun taking on physical shape and form. Moskowitz and his wife Cherna also purchased the land on which the Ma’aleh HaZeitim complex continues to be built, opposite the Mount of Olives.
Responding to international criticism, and especially from U.S. President Barack Obama regarding Jewish construction in the Shimon HaTzaddik area, Mrs. Moskowitz wrote in September 2009 that this “seems to be a continuation of a 2,000-year-old habit of Jews being told where they can and cannot live. This spanned from the ghettos of medieval Europe, to severe zoning restrictions in czarist Russia and finally to the edicts of Nazism where we were eventually told that we could not live at all.” She added that “reclaiming the land of our country” is “part of the Jewish tradition.”
Radical-left Peace Now, which objects to a Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem came out strongly against today’s activity at the Shepherd site, as did Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat and MK Dov Henin of the Jewish-Arab Hadash party.
Source material can be found at this site.