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Palestinian official accuses Israel of pursuing 'ethnic cleansing' policy in Jerusalem

Israel is pursuing a policy of “ethnic cleansing” against Jerusalem’s Palestinian inhabitants, the Palestinian minister of Jerusalem affairs Adnan Al-Husseini said on Monday.

The Istanbul-based Anadolu Agency quoted Al-Husseini as saying: “The Israeli occupation authorities have recently demolished numerous Palestinian homes [in Jerusalem] on the pretext they were built illegally”.

“Israel wants to uproot and expel the largest number of Palestinians from their homes with a view to building more illegal settlements [on expropriated Arab land],” he added.

The Palestinian minister called on the international community to hold the Israeli government responsible, noting that the situation requires a “real and immediate action”. He stressed that the international community should “compel” Israel to abide by international law and halt settlement construction.

Israel occupied the West Bank — including East Jerusalem — during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.

International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement-building on the land as illegal.

According to Israeli official data, there are more than 316 thousand Palestinian inhabitants in the city of Jerusalem.

Palestinians accuse Israel of waging an aggressive campaign to “Judaize” the historic city with the aim of effacing its Arab and Islamic identity and driving out its Palestinian inhabitants.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli authorities have demolished 183 houses in East Jerusalem over in 2016, compared to 79 homes in 2015.

In an effort to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, representatives of more than 70 countries and organizations attended the Mideast peace conference held in the French capital Paris last Sunday, where they called for a resumption of the moribund Palestine-Israel peace process. Palestinians welcomed the conference, but Israel called it “rigged”.

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