The Jerusalem municipality on Wednesday petitioned the High Court of Justice to revoke an extension on a demolition order and allow the city to immediately destroy 14 illegally built structures in East Jerusalem.
The municipality was linking its petition to the top court’s dismissal of a state request to delay the demolition of the Amona outpost, which is scheduled to be razed in late December after the court in 2014 ruled it was built on private Palestinian land.
In a statement, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that “we are obligated to act in accordance with one law for both Jews and Arabs,” and requested the High Court to remove a delay on the destruction of over a dozen Palestinian homes built illegally on privately-owned Jewish land in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
Barkat, who has threatened to go ahead with the destruction of the illegally constructed buildings in East Jerusalem if the Supreme Court would not approve an additional delay for Amona, added that if a solution is not found for the Jewish outpost “our hands will be tied and we will be forced to also bring about in Jerusalem the destruction of hundreds or thousands of homes.”
The Jerusalem municipality’s statement said there are hundreds of Palestinian families illegally living on plots owned by Jews in East Jerusalem. The city said many structures have already been ordered to be destroyed by Israeli courts. It added that until now, the policy of both the courts and the city has been to delay the destruction of these homes until a solution on approving the building infractions can be found. But, following the Amona ruling, the statement added, the city will change its policy to one of immediate dismantlement.
Following the release of the municipality’s statement, Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO opposed to the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, accused Barkat of adopting “the methods of a ‘price tag’ gang towards the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem.” “Price tag” attacks are a name given to acts of anti-Arab vandalism or violence by right-wing Jewish nationalists.
The NGO also wrote that 194 structures have been destroyed in East Jerusalem so far this year, nearly three times as many as in 2015. Ir Amim accused Barkat of going on a demolition spree of Palestinian homes in order to boost his standing in the Likud party, of which he is a member.
In light of the High Court rejection of a further delay to raze Amona, coalition members have proposed a law that would legalize Jewish homes built illegally on private Palestinian land in the West Bank.
On Wednesday, the bill passed an initial reading in the Knesset.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report