Monday, June 29, 2009

Israel's Judaization policy hits church buildings

Press TV reports:

Israeli authorities have threatened to demolish 500 buildings owned by the churches in the Old City of Jerusalem (al-Quds), church officials say.

The Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches in Jerusalem (al-Quds) released a joint statement on Saturday complaining that Israeli forces have recently stepped up demolitions in accordance with the Municipality's E1 plan for the city.

It further said that with this articulate detailed plan, the Israeli authorities are pushing out the Palestinian Christian and Muslim populations, while simultaneously increasing the construction of 'Jewish-only' homes.

The church buildings are mainly homes owned by the church and leased to Palestinian Christian priests, nuns and their families.

Israeli authorities claim that the affected buildings were renovated without permits, but failed to acknowledge the lack of an authorization process for the Church to obtain the necessary permits.

Church officials said that the demolition orders were questionable. In one case, a demolition order states a 50-square meter apartment as an 'addition' to the home, while the entire home is a 50-square meter apartment.

They said that although they have asked the Israeli officials to investigate the violation, they have thus far refused.

In another case, they were seeking a permit for minor renovations for a home, but the Israeli officials said that "it is a waste of your time. Do not dream of receiving any permit."

Dozens, if not hundreds, of church-owned buildings were seized by Israeli forces during the 1948 occupation of Palestine and during the 1967 Six-Day War for the creation of Israel.

These buildings were taken over by the Jewish National Fund, which owns more than 90 percent of the land inside the occupied territories, and has rented them to Jews who immigrated to Israel.

The demolition plan falls under Israel's policy of changing the demographic feature of Jerusalem (al-Quds), seeking to turn the third-holiest Islamic city into a "Jew only" region.