US warns against Jerusalem house demolitions
Washington responds to internal security minister's declaration that razing orders against east Jerusalem structures will be implemented in coming days. 'If either side takes significant actions during the proximity talks that we judge would seriously undermine trust, we will respond to hold them accountable,' State Department official says
Responding to a question presented by Ynet, the State Department stressed that the United States would hold accountable any party sabotaging the proximity talks, as explained last week in an unusual statement by special Mideast envoy George Mitchell.
"As you know, the first round of proximity talks was concluded last weekend," the official added. "Both parties are trying to move forward in difficult circumstances, and we commend them for that.
"As we have said, if either side takes significant actions during the proximity talks that we judge would seriously undermine trust, we will respond to hold them accountable and ensure that negotiations continue."
The administration officials clarified that actions aimed at sabotaging the talks would not interfere with the American determination to continue advancing the negotiations.
"Our policy on Jerusalem remains unchanged. The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in permanent status negotiations between the parties. This underlines the importance of making progress in the proximity talks to enable the parties to move to direct negotiations that will resolve this and other issues once and for all."
The Jerusalem Municipality has avoided implementing demolition orders in Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem since October 2009, mainly due to the sensitive diplomatic situation and pressure from the Prime Minister's Office.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has criticized the demolition of houses in east Jerusalem, calling on the Israeli government and Jerusalem Municipality to avoid "such provocative acts".
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said during a Knesset session on Wednesday, "At There is nothing preventing us, nothing preventing us from executing the signed demolition orders tomorrow morning. The police will assist and provide full protection for the execution of the orders."