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EU denounces illegal Israeli project in East Jerusalem

Aug. 3, 2018 12:27 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 6, 2018 2:36 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The European Union (EU) Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in the Jerusalem and Ramallah districts issued a statement on Thursday denouncing the Israeli expansion of an illegal Israeli settlement project in the Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

The statement said that "the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah express serious concern at the official inauguration on 1st August of a touristic center, run by a settler organization, in the Batn al-Hawa/Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, in the compound from which five households of the Palestinian Abu Nab family were evicted in 2015."

The EU said that "around 180 Palestinian households in East Jerusalem, out of which approximately 100 in Batn al-Hawa alone, face the risk of eviction from their homes, directly facilitating further settlement growth in the city, as in this instance."

"The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah recall the successive Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions and statements in which the EU has repeated its strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including evictions and demolitions. Settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States, is illegal under international law, and undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace."

The EU statement comes a few days after the Wadi Hilweh Information Center and the Batn al-Hawa Committee announced, in a joint statement, that Israeli authorities allocated about 4.5 million shekels for the illegal Israeli settlement project, under the name of the Jewish Yemenite Heritage Center, near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Jewish Yemenite Heritage Center is attempting to control and seize more than 5 dunums (1.2 acres) in the Batn al-Hawa area in the Silwan neighborhood under the pretext that it originally belongs to Jews from Yemen since 1881.

The center and the committee mentioned that Yemeni Jews lived in the Silwan neighborhood as refugees for a period not longer than 50 years, where they were welcomed by Palestinian residents, contrary to the Western Jews who refused to live side by side.

Israeli settlement associations have been gradually seizing real estate in the area by claiming ownership of the land in smaller parts and purchasing property from more easily influenced residents.

Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers. There are eight illegal Israeli settlement outposts in Silwan, the first one being under Israeli settler control since 2004.

The number of assaults by Israeli settlers towards Palestinian residents in Silwan has escalated as the illegal Israeli settlement expansion throughout the neighborhood continues.

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