Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
May 1, 2009 - 12:00am

Washington, DC, May 1 – The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) today voiced strong support for a report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calling for an end to Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian homes and other restrictions on Palestinian living conditions in occupied East Jerusalem. The report issued today, entitled “The Planning Crisis in East Jerusalem: Understanding the phenomenon of ‘illegal’ construction,” confirms that only 13 percent of land in East Jerusalem is zoned for the construction of Palestinian housing, and that, as a consequence, 28 percent of Palestinian homes in the city face possible demolition on the grounds of “violating zoning restrictions.” The report states that even within this 13 percent of the city, “much of this land is already built-up, the permitted construction density is limited and the application process is complicated and expensive.”

The report says that, “throughout its occupation, Israel has significantly restricted Palestinian development in East Jerusalem,” and that between 2000 and 2008, 673 Palestinian homes were demolished. 1,500 additional demolition orders against Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem are currently pending, that would potentially make thousands of people homeless. In March, the UN Special Coordinator’s Office stated that home demolitions, “harm ordinary Palestinians, heighten tensions in the city, undermine efforts to build trust and promote negotiations, and are contrary to international law and Israel’s commitments.” On March 4, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of Israel’s home demolitions in East Jerusalem, “clearly this kind of activity is unhelpful and not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the Road Map.” She added that, “it is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the government at the municipal level in Jerusalem.”

ATFP President Ziad Asali said, “Israel’s illegal home demolitions must immediately stop. They cause profound human suffering, prejudice the outcome of negotiations, and erode Palestinian and Arab confidence in peace.” “Israel is disregarding its Road Map obligations to freeze settlement construction under the pretext of ‘natural growth,’ while actively restricting the housing needs of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem,” he noted. Dr. Asali said that, “as President Obama's Administration is working to revive the peace process and build a regional coalition for peace, these actions can only serve as a significant obstacle.” He concluded, “to uphold international law, preserve the viability of peace negotiations, and – most importantly – advance US national interests, home demolitions in East Jerusalem must end.”

The full UN report can be downloaded in PDF at:


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017