A day after the Shepherd Hotel in east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was razed to make room for some 20 housing units designated for Jews, members of the Husseini family, the descendants of the mufti of Jerusalem, tried to stop the construction work at the site.
Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was known for his avid support of Adolf Hitler, lived at the structure which later became the Shepherd Hotel.
His descendents filed a petition claiming the land was theirs, but it was rejected by the Jerusalem District Court on Monday. Judge Yigal Marzel said the appeal was filed late despite the fact that those who submitted it learned of the planned razing about a month ago.
The mufti's son, Abd el-Khader, told a press conference in Sheikh Jarrah, "I want to make it clear that there never was and there never will be a deal between the Husseini family and the occupation's government for the sale of the Shepherd Hotel compound."
Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian-appointed governor of Jerusalem, said reports that Jewish businessman Irwin Moskowitz purchased the land in the 1980s were false. "This is a sordid deal concocted by the Israeli government. Our family is part of the Palestinian nation, and we support a two-state solution for two peoples, also in Jerusalem. It should be an open city where there will be a Palestinian capital alongside an Israeli capital," he said.
"Israel is making a mistake by destroying any chance to realize the vision of peace and two states. Even though the court recognized the deal, we won't allow it. We haven’t given our consent or signed any papers," Husseini said.
Amid reports that the European Union is considering having officials present at the site of imminent house demolitions or evictions in east Jerusalem, Husseini said, "Condemnations are not enough. It is time for action by the international community. If we lose this battle, it's not just our people, but the entire world which will lose the chance for peace."
The family's attorney, Sani Huri, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that the land had been purchase legally is unfounded. "Israel transferred the asset to Moskowitz without the family's consent. The property was given to the family when it was forced to leave Jerusalem for Jordan. There need to be documents and signatures, but here everything was done in secret. When we asked the Land Registration Office to see the documents, we were told the file had disappeared," he said.
Adnan Husseini added that the razing of the Shepherd Hotel was carried out in accordance with "Israel's settlement policy in Jerusalem.
"This demolition strategy is aimed at building a new settlement in Sheikh Jarrah that will stretch to Highway 1 in the west and create territorial continuity of settlements," he said.
Addressing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claim that Israel's move to proceed with the razing of the derelict hotel undermines the peace effort, Husseini said "we appreciate these comments, but are anticipating a policy of pressure on Israel. We want to see international presence to protect our residents' property, because they fear Israel."
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