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Israel orders residents of Zaytoun in central Gaza to evacuate
Settlers prepare move into key East Jerusalem site
Published Friday 28/03/2014 (updated) 31/03/2014 09:50
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A picture taken on March 19, 2014, shows the central post office
building in east Jerusalem (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Radical Jewish settlers are readying to move into a major property in the commercial heart of occupied East Jerusalem, overlooking the walls of the Old City, officials have told AFP.

A large part of the property, which also houses East Jerusalem's main post office and an Israeli police station, was purchased last year by a radical settler group called Ateret Cohanim, which bought it from Israel's Bezeq telecoms company.

Located on the corner of Salah al-Din and Sultan Suleiman in the busy center of East Jerusalem just outside the Old City walls, the property is currently being converted into a Jewish seminary, or yeshiva, an Israeli official and Palestinian workers said.

Ateret Cohanim actively works to settle as many Jews as possible in densely populated Palestinian areas in and around the Old City.

The purchase was first reported in Israel's Haaretz newspaper, which published part of an email in which Ateret Cohanim’s executive director Daniel Luria contacted supporters to announce the acquisition of more than 1,000 square meters in "a very large and strategic building" just outside the Old City.

An Israeli official confirmed the group had bought parts of the property and was currently carrying out renovations in order to have it ready for occupancy before the week-long Passover festival begins in mid-April.

"They are now renovating it for the yeshiva and for a school to prepare Orthodox Jews for military service," he told AFP. "They are trying to set it all up before Passover on April 13."

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Bezeq refused to confirm who was behind the purchase.

"We will not disclose the identity of the buyers," he said.

Luria declined to speak to AFP.

The building is currently being renovated by Palestinian workers under the supervision of Israeli technicians and engineers.

"We work day and night. It is almost ready," said one worker who refused to give his name.

Local shopkeepers said they had been aware of the plan for several months.

"We found out four months ago from the workers that settlers had purchased the property and are turning it into a yeshiva," said Adel al-Sharbati, who owns a nearby mobile phone shop and spoke of a sense of powerlessness.

"They’re the strong ones here -- who should we complain to?" he told AFP, saying it was likely to raise tensions in the area.

"The whole area will be affected negatively once they're here," he added.
1 ) Rondo Mondo / Canada
28/03/2014 17:26
Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel. Israelis, Jewish, Christian, Druze and Arab, can choose to live anywhere in Jerusalem. Those Palestinian Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship can live wherever they want. It is some of the Palestinian Arabs who wish to have segregation based on ethnic background.

2 ) samir mansour / palestine
28/03/2014 23:59
How sad ! Bit by bit, house by house, building by building, village by village, orange grove by orange grove and olive tree by olive tree my country is being stolen by intruding foreigners - the world watches with astonishment at modern piracy. When will this end ?

3 ) ian / australia
29/03/2014 01:46
It's interesting that the plan is to set up a yeshiva. Seems it's brain-dead, hypnotised religious nuts (no offense) who are best suited to man this audacious incursion into East Jerusalem. A few miles away, over the Green Line, in WEST Jerusalem, live lots of basically decent, sane Jews who wouldn't WANT to be part of it because they know how menacing and alarming the takeover of this central building, deep in Arab East Jerusalem, will be. But in the Orthodox, those kind of moral scruples

4 ) ian / australia
29/03/2014 01:51
(contd.) or squeamishness and the capacity for empathy have been cauterised leaving them blank to the distress it will cause Palestinians in their neighbourhood. Yeshiva students, rushing round manically in their crazy bubble (they will doubtless use the Herod's Gate entrance to get to HaKotel for Shabbat) are the perfect, "job ready" attack force for this new assault. Seems they have the "right stuff" for the dirty job ahead which is what makes it so sickening.

5 ) ian / australia
29/03/2014 01:52
#1 "Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel..." Not according to the 195 or so states in the world which AREN'T Israel, it's not, Rondo Mondo. Israel is out on a limb on that one. There's even a UNSC Res (unanimous) declaring the "unification" of Jerusalem "null and void". And how exactly can Arab residents whom Israel refuses to grant building permits "choose to live anywhere in Jerusalem"? And isn't the tenet of "segregation based on ethnic background" precisely what WILL be taught

6 ) ian / australia
29/03/2014 01:53
(contd.) to students in their shiny new yeshiva in Salah Al-Din Street? And why are the most vile, pitiless apologists for every putrid new thing Israel does always from Canada? Why is that?

7 ) Steven / Scotland
29/03/2014 03:16
Jerusalem should not be part of Israel and neither should any part. Israel has annexed land ever since 1948 and commited various ethnic cleansing. It is Zionist hierarchy that wishes to promote apartheid and segregation.

8 ) marijke / holland
29/03/2014 11:13
1) According to International Law you are misinformed.

9 ) Outlier / USA
29/03/2014 21:40
Law - even international law -is ever-evolving. I expect many countries - despite previous resolutions - will cede Israel much of East Jerusalem if Palestinians agree to such in a peace settlement. As Palestinians have little to offer, it may well happen.
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