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Defending Housing Rights in Jerusalem

The objective of this proposal is to create awareness and promote opposition against Israeli plans to destroy Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem -particularly in Silwan- under Article 212 of the Israeli Planning and Building Law.
In 1967, Israel adopted two basic principles in their rule of East Jerusalem. The first was to rapidly increase the Jewish population in east Jerusalem. The second was to hinder growth of the Arab population and to force Arab residents to make their homes elsewhere and to move as many Jews as possible into east Jerusalem, a policy that has translated into a miserable life for the majority of east Jerusalem

To reach such a goal, Israeli governments utilized many tools, including demographic change through land confiscation and the establishment of settlements. Not to mention the restrictive Israeli rules and regulations against Palestinian Jerusalemites as well as other obstacles and impediments in the face of Palestinian building.

Most of the Israeli colonization programmes have been carried out around the Palestinan populated ereas in side the old city, Silwan area is different as the colonization program targets the built area of the community itself. The colonization move against Silwan escalated since 1991, where more than forty houses were taken over by Jewish settlers, Wadi Hilwe neighborhood was targetted in particular because of its proximity to the wall of the Old City.

Law 212 of the Israeli planning and building law is used so that demolition can be carried out without conviction. The law states that; “Where an offence under this chapter has been committed in respect of any building and, if any person had been convicted thereof, the court would have been competent to order as provided in section 205, the court may so order even without any person having been convicted as aforesaid “. This article has been used frequently in Jerusalem area including the Mugrabi quarter in 1967 and Al Bustan area in Silwan in 2004. No accurate data available on the number of house affected. 

In spite of its danger, no efforts have been made to explore the racist nature of this article and the serious threats it poses to the Palestinian population of Jerusalem particularly in the Silwan neighborhood. This proposal is specifically designed to explore the expected danger of this article to the existence of this neighborhood and its inhabitants, and in doing so, the project intends to conduct several integrated activities to bring public attention and to create the necessary momentum against it.

The activities include; Preparing a study on the threats of article 212 that could put in danger Palestinian houses or neighborhood especially as related to Selwan area. Several activities will be conducted to achieve the objectives of this proposal including consultation meetings with lawyers and laws experts to explore means to confront this article. Form a local lobby to advocate against this article and to stand against actions used in accordance with this article. Initiate a process to generate international interest of the threat of this article with the aim of forming international solidarity with the Palestinian threatened by it.

House Demolitions in Jerusalem, Study paper prepared by ATF in which the danger of the article 212 was found. October, 2006

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