Netanyahu. US pleased
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Barkat during press conference Tuesday
Photo: Gil Yohanan

US praises PM's intervention in Silwan dispute

State Department welcomes postponement of controversial demolition of Silwan homes to allow further talks with residents

The US State Department on Tuesday praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intervention in the Silwan dispute after he asked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to postpone the implementation of the mayor's plan.


According to the plan, some buildings constructed without a permit in the al-Bustan neighborhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem will be demolished, and in their place an archeological park will be established.


State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said the US had noted that Netanyahu had asked Barkat to continue discussions with residents before implementing the plan, and had welcomed the move.


He also reiterated the position of the Obama administration, which calls on both sides to avoid taking unilateral steps which are liable to undermine efforts towards, as well as faith in, renewed negotiations.


Jerusalem's mayor had originally intended to begin implementation Tuesday, but postponed the plan in response to Netanyahu's request.


"The prime minister asked me to make every effort to reach an agreement with the residents. Of course, I responded positively to his request," he said during a press conference earlier Tuesday. "I decided to delay the discussion in the local committee so that we can continue talks with residents."


Some 88 buildings in the al-Bustan neighborhood were constructed without a permit. Barkat intended to grant permits retrospectively to most, in exchange for demolishing 20 houses to make way for the park.


On Monday the State Department rebuked Israel for its plan to build 600 housing units in east Jerusalem. Crowley emphasized that such acts are harmful, especially when the US is making efforts to encourage renewed talks.


Ronen Medzini contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 03.02.10, 23:39
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