Three buildings have been demolished by the Israeli authorities’ bulldozers in occupied East Jerusalem. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
While Israeli officials said the action was taken to enforce court orders against – what they called – illegal and unpopulated structures, residents say two of the buildings were inhabited by Palestinian families and the third was a warehouse.
The US has described such actions as damaging to peace efforts and Israel has been under international pressure to stop demolitions in the area.
The Jewish state is accused by Palestinians of discriminatory planning practices which deny them building permits, often leaving them no choice but to build illegally and therefore risk demolition.
“I have to express my deep concern about the latest developments in East Jerusalem,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said, while speaking at a news conference attended by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Brussels.
“These are counterproductive developments. Settlements and demolition of houses are illegal, they are against international law, they constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two state solution impossible,” said Mr Barroso.
Mr Fayyad said Israel’s actions were “inconsistent with the need to continue to have the concept of viability for a two state solution”.
A day before those demolitions, Israeli authorities approved the construction of 32 new homes in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.
Since 1967, East Jerusalem is occupied by Israel, which annexed the area in 1981 and sees it as its exclusive domain.
But under international law the area remains occupied territory.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital in a two state solution.