UN: Freeze Jerusalem demolitions
The UN has asked Israel to freeze all pending demolition orders in East 
Jerusalem and to do more to provide for the housing needs of Palestinians. 
Almost a third of all Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have been built 
without a permit, says a UN report. 
This puts 60,000 Palestinians at risk of having their houses demolished by 
Israeli authorities. 
The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, has acknowledged a planning crisis for all 
of Jerusalem. 
The report, produced by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian 
Affairs, says the root of the problem in a lack of adequate urban planning by 
the Jerusalem municipality which controls East Jerusalem. 
Palestinians wanting to build a home can only seek permission to do so in a 
small area. It comprises about 13% of East Jerusalem and is already densely 
As a result at least 28% of all homes have been constructed illegally. 
Out of the quarter of a million Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, the UN 
says, 60,000 are at risk of having their homes demolished by the Israeli 
Plans promised 
Israeli officials reacted to the UN report by saying that building codes are 
enforced even-handedly across the city. 
Jerusalem's municipality has said all Jerusalem residents are treated equally 
whether built to house Jewish or Palestinian families it says, all illegal 
buildings must be pulled down. 
The office of the mayor of Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat, disputed the figures 
given in the UN report. 
But Mr Barkat admitted that there was a planning crisis in all of Jerusalem 
that "affects Jews, Christians and Muslims alike".
A spokesman said, a master plan for the city would be announced in the coming 
The UN report says that approximately 1,500 demolition orders have been issued 
and are pending. If carried out they would make 9000 people homeless, half of 
them children. 
Overall the UN estimates a gap of about 1,100 housing units per year in the 
Palestinian community in east Jerusalem. 
Those who build illegally not only risk losing their home, but also "face heavy 
fines imposed by the Jerusalem municipality and, in some cases prison 
Hardest hit are the children, says the report. 
"In the immediate aftermath of demolitions, children often face gaps in 
education and limited access to basic services such as health care and clean 
water. Longer-term impacts include symptoms of psychological distress." 
Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since 1967. It has annexed the city and 
declared its east and west Israel's eternal capital. 
This is not recognised by the international community, with the east of the 
city considered occupied territory. 
Palestinians hope to establish their capital in East Jerusalem. They say Israel 
uses demolition orders to try to force them out of their homes.


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