Interview: Palestinian official slams Israel for settlement expansion

2013-02-04 16:40:13 GMT2013-02-05 00:40:13(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

RAMALLAH, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- A senior Palestinian official on Monday accused Israel of continuing settlement construction and " Judaizing" the holy city of Jerusalem, warning that it would endanger the Palestinians' presence in East Jerusalem.

In an interview with Xinhua, Adnan al-Husseini, minister of Jerusalem's affairs in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank, said that Israel is hurrying up its plans to expand Jewish settlements and build the separation wall.

"The Israeli government is using settlement expansion and building up the separation wall to execute its plans of Judaizing the city and gradually expelling Palestinian population from it," said al-Husseini, adding that "these plans are aiming at isolating East Jerusalem from the entire West Bank."

The PNA accuses Israel of building more settlement to get rid of the Palestinian residents living in the area, which would undermine future opportunity to establish a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel, however, insists that Jerusalem as a city can never be divided and that it is the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

"We notice that Israel is working on two parallel tracks to force the Palestinian residents in the city to leave. The first is the construction of the separation wall that surrounds the city, and the second is the construction of more settlement, mainly around the city's eastern part," said al-Husseini.

The "endangered" villages include Beit Safafa, populated by some 12,000 Palestinians; as well as Beit Exa and al-Za'eem.

At the beginning of this year, hundreds of residents in al- Fehidat, east of Anatta town, received Israeli government warrants to evacuate their homes.

"In fact, most Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are receiving daily Israeli warrants of evacuation," said al-Husseini. "These warrants, which are basically illegal, are just warnings to seize the Palestinian lands, with 26 settlement and 270,000 settlers near East Jerusalem."

There are 386,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Statistic Bureau Center. Al-Husseini said that settlement activities concentrate in Ras el-Aamod, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Beit Safafa and the old city.

Recently, a video posted on various Israeli websites has outraged the Palestinians, as the video clip contains images of removing the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, and replacing them with a Jewish temple.

"The video is a practical proof that Israel has a wish to take all Jerusalem and remove everything for the Palestinians," said al- Hisseini.

The Palestinian official criticized Israel for shutting down Palestinian institutions and associations since the year of 2000. "The closure of the institutions in Jerusalem is merely political, in order to remove any Palestinian presence in the city," said al- Husseini.

The PNA minister also slammed the Arab and Islamic countries for not devoting more efforts and more support to the city. He revealed that the PNA is working on plans to increase Arab and Islamic leaders and officials' visits for the sake of earning more support.

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