Press Release
Contact Information: Ghaith al-Omari
January 10, 2011 - 1:00am

Washington DC, Jan. 10 -- The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) today expressed grave concerns about the effects of Israel's demolition of the historic Shepherd Hotel in occupied East Jerusalem on prospects for peace. ATFP strongly agrees with Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton that this provocative action is a “disturbing development [that] undermines peace efforts to achieve the two state-solution." She added that this action by the settler movement Ateret Cohanim, bankrolled by gambling billionaire Irving Moskowitz, "contradicts the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties on the status of Jerusalem." Ateret Cohanim says it intends the new structure to be the beginning of a much larger Jewish settlement in the area, and appears to have the backing of local and municipal Israeli authorities in both the Shepherd Hotel and broader projects.

The Hotel is in the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1967, and has been the scene of numerous recent confrontations between settlers and Palestinians over control of various buildings. ATFP called on the United States government to ensure that such provocations cease. The Task Force welcomes Sec. Clinton's commitment to “continue to press ahead with the parties to resolve the core issues, including Jerusalem, in the context of a peace agreement." ATFP also strongly agrees with Sec. Clinton's observation that the continued failure to produce a two-state agreement "harms Israel, harms the Palestinians, and harms the U.S. and the international community."

ATFP pointed out that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon observed that “inserting settlers into Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem” strongly undermines prospects for peace.

The Task Force also noted that a formal report submitted to European Union diplomats in the region recommended that East Jerusalem be treated as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The report sent to 25 EU Consuls General in Jerusalem suggested that EU officials be present at demolitions such as the one recently carried out at the Shepherd Hotel, and at court hearings regarding the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. It states, "Attempts to exclusively emphasize the Jewish identity of the city threaten its religious diversity and radicalize the conflict, with potential regional and global repercussions." It concludes that, "If current trends are not stopped as a matter of urgency, the prospect of east Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state becomes increasingly unlikely and unworkable."

ATFP calls on all parties to avoid all provocative unilateral actions that contradict stated US government policies, their own commitments under the Roadmap and Security Council resolutions and other aspects of international law, and that prejudice the outcome of negotiations on final status issues including Jerusalem. ATFP reiterated that the future of Jerusalem, a city central to two peoples and three faiths, can only be decided through negotiations, and not through unilateral actions, to ensure a lasting peace.


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