03/03/2010, 00.00
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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Jerusalem: seeds of the third intifada planted in the " King’s Garden "

Nir Barkat, the mayor intends to demolish a group of houses in east Jerusalem to build a public park. The intervention of Prime Minister Netanyahu has frozen the project. For Palestinians, the expropriation is considered "a declaration of war." AsiaNews sources: political plan to achieve a "Jewish city”.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The intervention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has - for the moment - frozen Nir Barkat’s project. However, the intention of the Mayor of Jerusalem to demolish 89 Palestinian homes in the neighbourhood of Silwan - in the area east of the city - to build a public park is only postponed. The project is regarded as a "declaration of war" by the Palestinian side. The tension has reached alarming levels: Christian sources tell AsiaNews that "the seeds for a third intifada have been planted."  

The Israeli authorities claim that the houses in the suburb renamed al-Bustan by the Palestinians - near Temple Mount - is illegal and the area has reached alarming levels of degradation. On the other hand, the Palestinians are claiming ownership of land, considered part of their capital. Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, aims to achieve the "King’s Garden " in the land where King David  is believed to have composed the psalms. The project involves the demolition of 22 houses and the tenants, explains the mayor, will be "moved to other areas." 66 other houses will obtain legal recognition and the "residents have the right to remain" in the land that is the object of discord.  

The area of Al-Bustan is located in the heart of Silwan, a Palestinian agglomeration that borders on the Old City of Jerusalem. Tel Aviv occupied the area in 1967 and the intention was to turn it into a public park. The buildings, Nir Barkat adds, are "illegal" and the area is "in the throes of decay" because of the lack of infrastructure. Christian sources tell AsiaNews of a "political plan" to transform "Jerusalem into a Jewish city." The framework is "disastrous" and there is little room for hope for the future: "The plan is clear to everyone - he adds - and the seeds have been planted for a third intifada." The Muslim community is ready to respond to attacks and "Christians are caught in the middle, between two fires." He adds that "I have no hopes for a Palestinian state" nor is there room for hope for a political solution, but "we expect the worst."  

The issue was also addressed by the UN and the U.S. government. Richard Miron, spokesman for the UN, said that "the demolition of the houses in East Jerusalem at the same time demolish confidence [in Israel], not only that of the Palestinians but of the entire international community." Washington has expressed its "appreciation" for Netanyahu’s intervention and issued an invitation to "avoid unilateral actions" that "undermine the trust and the efforts for the resumption of negotiations."
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