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US pressure leads Netanyahu to delay demolition of illegal Jerusalem building, report says

The structure in the Silwan neighborhood has been slated for demolition for years.

Israeli authorities destroy illegal Arab construction in eastern Jerusalem, Jan. 30, 2023. Source: Twitter.
Israeli authorities destroy illegal Arab construction in eastern Jerusalem, Jan. 30, 2023. Source: Twitter.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervened to delay the demolition of an illegally constructed building in eastern Jerusalem due to American pressure, Channel 11 reported.

Netanyahu was also reportedly warned by security forces that amid the current tensions, the building’s destruction could set off a round of violence in the largely Arab part of the capital.

The large building houses 100 persons and is located in the Wadi Qaddum section of Silwan/Shiloah, an Arab neighborhood in the city’s southeast.

The illegal structure has been slated for demolition for years but that was continuously put off due to international pressure.

It appeared that a date had finally been set for its demolition on Tuesday by an order issued by Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Five hundred police officers were to secure the demolition, which was to have been carried out over the course of more than 24 hours.

Despite the delay, which is for an unspecified time, Ben-Gvir said “the evacuation will happen…the laws of the State of Israel need to be enforced, period.”

Ben-Gvir issued a directive to demolish illegal buildings in eastern Jerusalem following the shooting rampage at a Jerusalem synagogue on Jan. 27 that left seven Israeli citizens dead and a second shooting in the city the next morning which wounded two.

Demolitions began on Jan. 29, starting in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood where 14 illegal structures were demolished.

An Arab resident of the Ras al-Amud neighborhood reportedly destroyed his own home, which was built without permits, upon receiving a warning from authorities.

“Even this morning, the demolition of the illegal houses in Jerusalem continues,” Ben-Gvir tweeted on Jan. 30. “It’s one step in a series of important steps for governance and the war on terrorism.

“And more steps are required in this war. A law is a law and it applies to all citizens of Israel. There will not be one law for the Jewish residents and another law for the Arab residents,” he added.

On Jan. 29, Ben-Gvir congratulated Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon and the Jerusalem police for “enforcing the law and carrying it out immediately.”

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