'Israel Continues its Efforts to Cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian Inhabitants, Heritage and History
By Dr. Saeb Erakat
January 10, 2011

Dr. Erakat on the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem: “Israel continues its efforts to cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants, heritage and history.”

Dr. Saeb Erakat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator, denounced today the Israeli demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem, initiated at 5 am this morning.

“The State of Israel is demolishing one Palestinian property after another in an effort to cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants, heritage and history. East Jerusalem, and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in particular, have been targeted by Israel in a campaign to forcibly remove Palestinians and supplant them with Jewish settlers. Such actions are unlawful and undermine the two-state solution and the negotiations process.”

Dr. Erakat went on to say, “The United Nations and governments around the world, including the United States and the United Kingdom have already condemned plans to demolish this particular hotel. We call on the world to take a strong stand in defense of their positions. This intransigent and illegal behavior on behalf of Israel must not be allowed to proceed unchecked.”

The Chief Palestinian Negotiator concluded, “What is happening today is part of the political program of the Israeli government to preempt any solution on Jerusalem. While Netanyahu continues his public relations campaign regarding the peace process, on the ground he is rapidly moving to prevent the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.” Dr. Erakat added, “Israel continues to change the landscape of Jerusalem aiming to change its status and turn it into an exclusive Jewish city. This process of cleansing and colonization must be stopped to change the dark reality of Israeli occupation into a free and sovereign Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Settlement plans in Sheikh Jarrah, similar to those in Silwan, Mount of Olives, Ras Al Amoud, Al Issawiya and other neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, aim to create a ring of settlements severing the Old City from the rest of occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

About the Shepherd Hotel Property

The property currently referred to as the Shepherd’s Hotel was built in the 1930’s by Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, as his family home outside of the Old City of Jerusalem. Upon his exile by the British in 1937, the property fell under British government control and was pressed into service as a military outpost. During the period of Jordanian rule, from 1948 through 1967, the Mufti's proxy took control of the property, assumed its management and rented it to hoteliers. Thus the home became known as the Shepherd’s Hotel. In 1967, the Hotel, along with the rest of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood where it’s located, fell under Israeli occupation. Israeli authorities confiscated the property and transferred it to the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property who in turn transferred it to the Israeli Development Authority from where it subsequently passed, on 5 November 1985, to "C & M Properties."

The Shepherd’s Hotel is currently being demolished in order to facilitate the construction of a residential Jewish settlement. These demolition and settlement construction plans mask an settlement project that date back to the 1984. In July 2009, the Israeli planning authorities approved the construction license for the project, thus allowing for the demolition of the existing building in favor of two new residential buildings, which will include 30 housing units and associated amenities at the first stage and 90 housing units at a later stage.