Police Clash With Arab Youth While Distributing Demolition Orders in East Jerusalem

Four demolition orders come amid Mayor Nir Barkat's development plan program raze 22 Palestinian homes in Silwan that were built without permits, and to construct a tourism center in their place.

Jerusalem municipal supervisors on Sunday distributed four demolition orders to homeowners in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, in the east of the city.

Clashes broke out between local youths and the officers accompanying the supervisors; police responded by firing tear gas.

silwan - AP - October 17 2010

Mayor Nir Barkat has approved a development program in that neighborhood to raze 22 Palestinian homes that were built without permits, and to construct a tourism center in their place. An additional 66 homes built without the proper permits would receive approval.

The tourism center for the area, which is called Al Bustan in Arabic and Gan Hamelekh (King's Garden) in Hebrew, is to include restaurants and boutique hotels

The city said it will help the residents of the 22 homes slated for demolition to move to other areas of Silwan.

Local residents oppose the plan and claim that its purpose is to increase the hold of Jewish settlers over the neighborhood. They have submitted an alternative plan that does not involve the demolition of homes but still includes the park that is part of the city's plan. The zoning panel did not discuss the alternative plan, which angered council members on the left.

The program also met significant opposition from European states and the U.S., but was nevertheless approved by the city's planning and building council.

In light of the pressure facing the city now with regard to construction and planning, the demolition will not likely take place in the near future.

The city called the distribution of orders a "routine procedure" of applying court rulings across the city.