UK’s Jerusalem consul chief condemns city evictions, says planning laws ‘unfair’
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UK’s Jerusalem consul chief condemns city evictions, says planning laws ‘unfair’

Philip Hall hits out at Israel's actions against Palestinian residents in the eastern part of the city, but says 'it's not too late to hope that justice will prevail'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Philip Hall speaking on a video released by the UK consulate in Jerusalem
Philip Hall speaking on a video released by the UK consulate in Jerusalem

Philip Hall, British consul general in Jerusalem, has issued a new strongly worded attack on the scale of evictions and demolitions of property by Israel in the “occupied” East of the city but has claimed: “It’s not too late to hope that justice will prevail.”

In a video released on the British Consulate in Jerusalem Twitter page, Hall said: “The UK position is clear: East Jerusalem is occupied and has been illegally annexed.

“The restitution and planning laws here are unfair… and breach Israel’s obligations as an occupying power. ”

The former head of the Spending Review at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is filmed visiting the village of Sheik Jarrah close to the office of the Consulate General.

He says about 87 people or 19 families are threatened with eviction from homes provided for them by United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) after Israel came into existence “under a law applying only in east Jerusalem.”

Hall says: “Many of them lost their homes in Israel in 1948.. They are unable to claim the homes there is no dispute about, the homes they owed before 1948.

“But they stand to lose the homes that were provided to them by UNRWA.”

Hall then addresses the issue of demolitions elsewhere in Jerusalem heading south towards Bethlehem where he says “the bigger problem is demolitions.”

He accepts that demolitions can be the result of “fair planning process “if people build without permission.

But Hall then adds: “You need to have a fair planning system and that is lacking in East Jerusalem.

“Only 13 per cent of East Jerusalem is zoned to give Palestinians a chance of getting planning permission, and most of that is built on already.”

He adds that “on the other hand 35 per cent has been allocated to settlements for newcomers.”

 

Hall meeting Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem

Hall explains that many Palestinian homes were built without planning permission and are now threatened with demolition.

Ending the video he suggests: “It’s not too late to hope justice will prevail for the residents of east Jerusalem – and I’m here to make clear that we very much hope it will.”

The pro two-state group Yachad have been one of the most vocal communal organisations to condemned Israel’s moves to start building a new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.

Director Hannah Weisfeld has said that these actions will “only undermine the two-state solution”.

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