About Us

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Jerusalem store owner demolish own shop to avoid Israeli fines

14 November 2017       Ma'an News

An Israeli soldier stands as a bulldozer pulls down the house of a Palestinian family near the West Bank town of Hebron on January 20, 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian store owner was forced to demolish his own shop in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, after Israel issued an order and demolition fee against the shop under the pretext that it was built without a nearly impossible-to-obtain building permit. 

The Wadi Hilweh Information center, based in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, reported that Amin Abbasi was told by Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality two weeks ago that if he did not demolish his shop within 30 days, crews from the municipality would carry out the demolition and force him to pay for the costs, which typically are extremely high.

The center said that the shop was built two years ago. 

Abbasi’s demolition was the second recorded self-demolition to take place in Silwan in 48 hours, after a Palestinian from the neighborhood destroyed his own home on Sunday for the same reasons, leaving his family of four homeless. 

A spokesman of a Silwan-based committee formed to fight demolitions, Fakhri Abu Diab, previously told Ma’an that all 100 residential structures in the al-Bustan area are slated for demolition, and that the 1,570 residents of the area have exhausted all legal options.

The residents of al-Bustan have been embroiled in a decades-long battle that began in the 1970s after the Israeli government embarked on a plan to build a national park in the area, with the city's master plan defining the area as an open space where construction was prohibited, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.The residents of al-Bustan have been embroiled in a decades-long battle that began in the 1970s after the Israeli government embarked on a plan to build a national park in the area, with the city's master plan defining the area as an open space where construction was prohibited, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

Due to the designation, residents have long faced great difficulties contending with demolition orders issued against the homes that were built there without permits -- mostly in the 1980s -- due to the increasing population in Silwan.

The municipality began issuing demolition orders and indictments to homes in al-Bustan in 2005 as part of the Israeli authorities' plan to establish the Jewish site “King David’s Garden” in Silwan and around the "Holy Basin," which includes many Christian and Muslim holy sites.

Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that has seen an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families.

According to UN documentation, as of November 6, 119 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israel in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year, displacing at least 211 Palestinians. A total of 190 Palestinian buildings were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2016.


European conference on settlement activity declares Israel 'apartheid regime'

14  November 2017       Ma'an News

A Palestinian rides on a donkey with a settlement in the background (Photo: Christian Peacemaker Team)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Representatives from 24 European countries, including parliamentarians, legal experts, journalists, and activists, met in Brussels earlier this week in the first European conference on Israeli settlement activity, agreeing on a declaration that accuses Israel of establishing an “apartheid regime” in the West Bank.

According to a press release, the agreement was named the Brussels Declaration, and agreed on the following stipulations:

1. Israel, the occupying power of the Palestinian territories since 1967 continues its policy of confiscating and judaizing Palestinian land and building settlements over it. These settlements have turned, with the passage of time, into an incubator for settler’s “terrorist organizations” such as Hilltop Youth, Paying the Price and Revenge.

2. With this premeditated policy of settlement expansion, it is, therefore, inappropriate to talk about dismantling political or security settlements, but rather, see this movement as a structure colonial policy that was able to colonize a large part of the West Bank not less than 60 percent of its size. This policy has, in fact, established an Apartheid regime, which violates the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which determines in its article 8 that the settlements are a war crime, and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice issued on 9 July 2004 regarding the Apartheid Wall, which was qualified as a serious violation of international law and UN resolutions, especially Security Council resolution 2334 (2016). This resolution clearly states that all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to the establishment of a contiguous, viable and fully sovereign Palestinian state.

3. The Brussels Conference, taking note of the above mentioned facts, considers the continuation of the settlement activities terminates all chances for the two-state solution and rather solidifies the apartheid system as practiced by the occupation policy. The Conference calls for the immediate termination of all settlement activities pursued by the occupying state in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.
4. The Brussels Conference calls on the international community to assume its legal responsibilities by addressing these racist policies of the occupying Power and put serious pressure on it to respect the relevant international law. The European Union, which has extensive relations and a partnership agreement with the Israeli occupying state, should pressure Israel to shoulder its responsibility to bridge the gap between its words and actions in the context of Israeli settlement policy by activating Article 2 of the Partnership Agreement to pressure Israel to respect its obligations as the occupying power.

5. The Brussels conference also calls on the EU countries to match their words with deeds, not just by issuing statements of denunciation and condemnation, rather adopting effective measures to hold Israel accountable by imposing a complete ban on all direct and indirect financial, economic, commercial and investment activities with Israeli settlements until it submits to international law.

6. The participants in this Conference, as they condemn the settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territories as a violation of international law, they emphasize, as well, the important role that can be played by political forces, parliaments, human rights organizations and civil society organizations in the EU countries to confront Israeli expansion plans and settlement construction. They also call upon the Governments of the EU and its constitutional institutions to shoulder their responsibilities in accordance with their collective responsibility to reject Israel's violations of the rights of Palestinian citizens under occupation in a manner that compels Israel to respect its obligations under Partnership Agreement at the minimum, and not permit settlers and their leaders to enter the EU countries and bring them to international justice as war criminals if they do.

7. The participants in the Conference call on the peoples of the world and their peace-loving democratic forces to actively participate in the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as BDS, and to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

8. The Conference also affirms its full support for the Palestinian initiative to refer constructing new settlements, expanding existing settlements and settlers’ violence against Palestinian to the International Criminal Court as war crimes.

9. The participants in the Conference salute the growing state of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just cause. They also commend the peoples of the world’s rejection of Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid as pursued by the Israeli occupation state.

10. The participants in the Conference call for confronting this policy by forming a European committee of participating countries represented in this Conference to expose the ongoing violations of the occupation forces and build up the pressure to prosecute Israeli war criminals until Israel complies with international law.