Settlers and a Palestinian family scuffle in the Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, April 27, 2012.
Settlers and a Palestinians scuffle in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in East Jerusalem, April 27, 2012. Photo by AFP
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Meir Margalit, a Jerusalem municipal council member, was questioned on Sunday under warning, about his part in rebuilding a house demolished by the municipality in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur. This is the first time an Israeli activist has been questioned about helping to rebuild demolished houses.

Margalit, who represents Meretz in the council and is active in the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was summoned by the state prosecutor to the construction supervision offices of the Interior Ministry, where he admitted that he was active not only in this case but in many other similar cases.

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For more than a decade, activists from Israel and abroad have been helping to rebuild Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem, demolished either by the municipality or the Interior Ministry. Margalit told the investigator that as a senior activist in the committee, he was involved in rebuilding "more than two hundred houses" in East Jerusalem. The house he was questioned about was rebuilt with Spanish activists, and with the help of a donation from the Spanish government.

"I was asked if I did it on purpose and answered that I do not recognize the Interior Ministry's right to question me about my activities in East Jerusalem, which is occupied territory and where Israeli law is not valid," said Margalit. "I have a feeling this questioning is part of the McCarthyist offensive in Israel in recent years. Each time they pick on one organization or activist, and this time it was my turn, so I wasn't that surprised."

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An Interior Ministry spokesperson said to Haaretz, "following a request by the state prosecutor's Land Laws Enforcement Unit, Mr. Meir Margalit was summoned for questioning on suspicion of building without a permit, which is a criminal act. All Israeli citizens, without exception, are subject to Israeli law, which includes the Planning and Construction Law, which prohibits building without a permit. After completing our examination of the case, we will finalize our recommendations."