Israel plans new project in East Jerusalem including demolition of dozens of Arab homes
The Israeli mayor of Jerusalem on Tuesday was planning to announce the building of a new archaeological park that would require the demolition of dozens of Arab homes. Mayor Nir Barkat's office, in a statement, said the announcement would concern a project in the King's Garden, the Hebrew name for the area outside the Old City known as Al-Bustan. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu has asked Barkat to delay the project, allowing more time to reach an accord the residents, according to a statement from his office, cited by AFP.
The statement said that while Netanyahu supports the right of the city to act as it sees fit, going ahead with the project now would serve "interest groups that want to cause disputes and show Israel in a distorted light at home and abroad." Barkat was expected to heed Netanyahu's call.
Israeli media reported that the plan calls for the destruction of dozens of houses built without Israeli permits, some of which are decades old, and for their owners to be compensated with businesses inside the new park. The project was also expected to legalise a seven-storey building constructed by Jewish settlers without a permit in 2004 in the same neighbourhood.