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



   20th June, 2010



Today, Monday June 21st, 2010 at 10.00 a.m. a planning committee will meet at the Jerusalem Municipality, Safra Square, to progress the plan of Mayor Nir Barkat which allows for the demolition of most of Silwan’s Bustan area – about 70 homes.  
The municipal planning committee has not responded to the alternative plan presented by Silwan residents, drawn up by City Planner Youssef Jabareen of the Haifa Technion (and a professor at M.I.T. in the United States), to avoid all demolitions while allowing for tourism development.
On approval of the Mayor’s plan tomorrow, the issue will proceed to a District Planning Committee and further bureaucratic procedures must take place.  Nevertheless, the planning is proceeding, despite previous diplomatic and media pressure which in 2005 caused the freezing of the settlers’/Municipality’s plan to develop a national park in the Bustan and demolition then of 88 homes (some of which have since been demolished by the Municipality, or as “self-demolitions”).
This provocative process is already inflaming local residents, contributing to recent riots, and causing incalculable stress and anxiety to 1500 people living in the Bustan.  It comes in the general context of fast-track judaisation of the Old City, the Holy Basin and East Jerusalem generally, thereby pre-empting the possibility of Jerusalem ever being a shared city, or indeed capital of a Palestinian state. This of itself precludes peace.
Representatives of the community of Silwan and Israeli activists will be outside the planning committee tomorrow at 10.00 a.m.  The presence of diplomats and press will be welcome, in order to send a message to Mayor Nir Barkat and his political allies that forced displacement of local residents is not acceptable to the international community.
For further details:      Fakhri Abu Diab – Local residents’ Committee (0522 206 227)
Angela Godfrey-Goldstein – ICAHD (0547 366 393)

Letter to the Foreign Office from APJP
20 June 2010
William Hague,  MP
Secretary of State
Foreign and Commonwealth Office             
King Charles Street
London, SW1A 2AH                                                                                
Dear Foreign Secretary


Our organization of architects and planners is writing to urge the Foreign Office’s immediate intervention to stop the demolitions of Palestinian homes , that are being planned imminently by the Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat in the Bustan area of Silwan in East Jerusalem.

We spoke yesterday to Fakhri Abu Diab, a Silwan resident whose house is one of the 22 houses out of 89, that is on the list for immediate demolition. The orders were prepared, but cancelled at the last minute following the intervention of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

Now we hear that the Mayor has decided to over-rule the orders of the Prime Minister, and cock a snook at international pressure,  and will convene the Jerusalem Municipality Planning Committee on Monday 21st June, to confirm and carry out the demolitions once and for all, so he can pursue his nationalist biblical fantasy scheme , the King’s Garden. He has decided that the Bustan houses are exactly on the site where King David composed the Psalms. He has moved an extremist settler organization called Elad, to take over Palestinian houses in Wadi Hilweh and Silwan, and given them more or less total control over this area, with their own security police.

As you are aware, East Jerusalem’s status under international law, as understood by every country besides Israel, is universally considered ‘occupied territory’, although Israel keeps insisting that it will be ‘an undivided Jewish City”. The aim is to displace or transfer out the existing residents, who have been there for generations, by refusing them planning permission to build or extend their homes, thus declaring them illegal, and liable for demolition.

Settlements constructed beyond the international border established in 1967 violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that states: The Occupying power shall not deport or transfer part of its own civilian citizens into the territory it occupies” Settling Israeli citizens in the Occupied Territories thus contravenes international law.

President Obama and Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, have repeatedly insisted that all settlement construction, including in East Jerusalem, must end. But, as we have seen , Israel has continued building in the Occupied West Bank, and especially East Jerusalem, with total impunity. Palestinians are living under a time bomb, in a state of extreme anxiety, with the threat of the bulldozer hanging over them, making them homeless.

This must stop, as it makes any progress towards a peaceful accord impossible.

The whole world is aghast at the lack of progress, endless conflict and completely illegal land grabbing created by Israel’s intransigence that is so dangerous for the Middle East and world peace, especially with the illegal Gaza blockade and the killings of the nine people in international waters on the Gaza flotilla.

We urge that that a clear signal is sent to Israel and actions rather than words are urgently implemented to ensure:

* That all demolitions of Palestinian houses must end and the orders permanently rescinded.
* that the whole occupation enterprise, the illegal settlements, the Separation Wall, the house demolitions, and the deplorable denial of human rights and denial of self determination for the Palestinian people must end, and a full withdrawal made of all settlers and the IDF to the 1948 Green Line.
* That these are designated ‘grave breaches and equal in principle to war crimes (Rene Kosirnik, head of the ICRC  delegation to  Israel and the OPT, press conference 17 May 2001.) On this basis, the Mayor of Jerusalem, could allegedly be carrying out a criminal action. Hence the importance of maintaining universal jurisdiction, for those of whatever country, who perpetrate such immoral acts.
* that the Goldstone report on Gaza must be implemented and the siege ended (not only eased) , with a free flow of food, fuel, medical supplies, and all building materials allowed in.
* that since Israel has refused to properly negotiate in good faith a withdrawal in line with UN resolution 242 since 1967 – sanctions, as the only remaining effective measures should be enforced. This should include the total withdrawal of all EU trade privileges, academic, trade and military co-operation and an arms embargo applied by the UN, the Quartet and civil society.

We hope you will take this seriously, and do whatever you can to stop the demolitions and apply the above, as the only  set of measures that will lead to a secure peace with justice for both sides, and lead to greater hopes for peace in the Middle East.

Yours sincerely

Abe Hayeem, RIBA, Chair APJP


To write to the UK Foreign Secretary:

William Hague,  MP
Secretary of State
Foreign and Commonwealth Office             
King Charles Street
London, SW1A 2AH   

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