U.N.: End Jerusalem house demolitions

(JTA) – The United Nations is calling on Israel to halt pending orders for the demolition of Palestinian homes in eastern Jerusalem.

The report, released Friday by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, also noted that only 13 percent of eastern Jerusalem is zoned for housing and called for assistance to families displaced by the demolitions.

Israel typically demolishes Palestinian homes that are built illegally without the proper permits. According to the report, Israel does not grant enough permits to meet demand. More than a quarter of Palestinian housing in eastern Jerusalem has been built without proper permits, the report says, and their potential demolition leaves 60,000 Palestinians at risk of homelessness.

In a statement, the Jerusalem municipality said the report was focused on the past and used inaccurate figures.

"The municipality of Jerusalem denies the accusations and numbers throughout the report but agrees that there is a planning crisis not just in eastern Jerusalem but throughout all of Jerusalem that affects Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike," the statement said.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who was elected last November, ran a campaign focused in part safeguarding Jerusalem’s Jewish majority, and he has come under fire this year for the steps he has taken to raze houses in eastern Jerusalem.

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