An Israeli court ordered the demolition of Palestinian homes because they were allegedly built in the "Peace Forest" but has given settlers permission to build there gives permission for settlers to build their homes, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday.
Palestinian residents of the homes appealed to the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem against the demolition order, but the court turned down their appeal.
According to Haaretz, the Israeli court upheld the demolition because, as claimed by the Israeli municipality, the houses are being built in what the municipality calls the "Peace Forest' in the Abu Tor neighbourhood. It added that they had also been built without the impossible to obtain building permits.
According to the paper, two weeks ago, the Israeli municipality "tried to change the forest's zoning so that Elad, an NGO that moves Jewish residents into Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, would not have to destroy some of the illegal buildings it has put up there."
As a result of this ruling, up to 60 buildings, home to 500 Palestinians, are expected to be demolished, but "the judge wrote that despite the harsh repercussions 'there are clear planning and construction laws and the High Court has ruled that whoever decides to build without appropriate permits can complain only to themselves for deciding to take the law into their own hands.'"
Meanwhile, the Israeli paper revealed, the Israeli municipality granted Elad permission to maintain its illegal structures.
Responding to Haaretz, the Israeli municipality said: "The Jerusalem municipality sees great importance in carrying out city zoning plans, alongside law enforcement against illegal construction," adding that Elad's plans did not involve construction but the development of land for leisure and sport activity.
Most Palestinian houses in occupied East Jerusalem are built without permits. "It's not that we didn't want to obtain a building permit, they [Israeli authorities] wouldn't allow us to," Palestinian resident, Walid Shweiki, told Haaretz.
He added: "Your family grows, you have a wife and children. Where can you go and live? On the street? You need some place."