Group condemns Israel building religious center in East Jerusalem

PNN/ Jerusalem/

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) on Wednesday strongly condemned that the Israeli authorities start applying a religious settlement project dubbed “Beit Haliba” in the center of occupied East Jerusalem in a serious violation of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights to the city, saying that this project would seriously distort and change the city’s historical characteristics as part of the Israeli plans to completely Judaize the city.

“PCHR reiterates its warnings and position following the U. S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U. S. embassy to it that the U. S. is an accomplice to a crime of aggression against the Palestinian State and war crime by its participation in the settlement activity crime,”PCHR said in a statement.

“PCHR also emphasizes that the U. S. decision has given the green light to the Israeli authorities to expropriate the Palestinian territory, particularly occupied Jerusalem, in favor of settlement projects.  PCHR also calls upon the international community to hold its legal and moral responsibilities and effectively intervene to stop the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people and their property,” it added.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at a late hour on Tuesday evening, 13 February 2018, the Israeli authorities settled a crane and other equipment in the location designated for establishing the above-mentioned settlement project.  According to the project approved in 2015 and tabled by the “Israeli Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter” supported by the Israeli municipality, the Israeli authorities intend to establish a 3-storey building on an area of 2825 square meters.

According to publications on this project, the first 740-square-meter floor of this Talmudic center will include administrative rooms, educational centers, auditorium, VIP lounge and festive hall.  The second 765-square-meter room will include a library, religious educational room and room for the guides in addition an open glassed-balcony on the roof overlooking the Western Wall, al-Aqsa Mosque, and Old City.  The underground 1320-square-meter floor will exhibit remnants of archeological assets found after years of excavations and the Israeli authorities claim they belong to the first and second Temple periods.  The project’s location is around 100 meters away from the Western Wall to the far northwestern side of it and will be established on an area of 1840 square meters.

PCHR also condemned the Israeli government’s latest measures in the occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs falling under its policy to make a Jewish majority in the city and change its character.

“PCHR reminds the international community that the Israeli forces violate the rules of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relevant to Protection of Civilians in Times of War and United Nation Security Council’s Resolutions, mainly Resolution (2334) on 23 December 2016 with the adoption of 14 Members and the United States abstaining that the Israeli settlements have no legal validity on the oPt, including East Jerusalem.”

In conclusion, PCHR confirmed that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and all decisions measures taken by the Israeli authorities following the occupation of the city in 1967 do not change its legal status as an occupied territory, and called upon the United Nation to work on providing protection for civilians in the oPt in general and in occupied East Jerusalem in particular. In addition, PCHR called upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to compel Israel, as a State Party to these Conventions, to apply them in the oPt, particularly East Jerusalem; and UNESCO to stop this serious prejudice of the city and its holy sites and Arab and human heritage.