The Shepherd Hotel in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was demolished Sunday morning. The demolition was carried out by the Jewish developer who purchased the land after receiving a building permit from the municipality at the beginning of the year for the construction of a new Jewish neighborhood at the site.
The new neighborhood will include some 20 housing units designated for Jews.
The news that the developer, Irwin Moskowitz, had received a permit was first revealed on Ynet during a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama in Washington. The news led the US to express its strong opposition to the decision to construct a neighborhood in that area, which is considered politically sensitive.
Attorney Elisha Peleg, chairman of the Likud faction in the Jerusalem Municipality welcomed the beginning of the construction, saying it would "strengthen the Jewish foothold in east Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem is in need of many housing projects to lower apartment prices. I call for the construction of many Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem to prevent the city's division and maintain its unity."
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said in response to the hotel's demolition that "Netanyahu and (Jerusalem Mayor Nir) Barkat have decided to isolate themselves from the world and allow Moskowitz and his friends in the extreme right to take over east Jerusalem like thieves in the night. The settlers, with the government's backing, are hurting Israel's international status and destroying any chance of a peace agreement."
The Solidarity Sheik Jarrah movement said, "The gang of settlers is continuing to grab the entire country by the balls, and their yes men, Bibi and (Defense Minister Ehud) Barak are continuing to destroy the country.
"Building a new settlement in Jerusalem goes against all of Israel's interests and threatens to destroy whatever is left of Israeli diplomacy and ignite Jerusalem once again," the movement said.
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