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Israel continues policy of systematic forced displacement in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds: Palestinian minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file picture shows a general view of a part of the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo in the Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds on November 16, 2020. (Photo by Getty Images)

Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem al-Quds Affairs Fadi al-Hadami says Israeli authorities continue a systematic pattern to forcibly displace Palestinians, change demographics in the occupied holy city, and replace original residents with batches of extremist settlers.

“The Occupation follows a systematic policy to reduce the number of Jerusalemites, through a replacement policy in several cities – the last of which was the plan to build 9,000 new settlement units in the vicinity of Jerusalem Airport, and other units in the areas of Jabal Abu Ghneim, Beit Safafa and the E1 zone,” Hadami said in an exclusive interview with the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency.

He went on to say that Israeli officials also seek eviction of 28 Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah district of Jerusalem al-Quds, and dozens of more Palestinian families in other regions.

The Palestinian minister highlighted that Israeli authorities follow the policy of home demolitions as a new strategy to advance their settlement expansion plans, as they have razed homes of Jerusalem al-Quds residents under false pretenses or have forced Palestinian families to demolish their own homes.

“Such attempts are meant to reduce the number of Jerusalemites and increase the number of settlers, change the demographic situation and status quo of Jerusalem al-Quds, and destroy the livelihood and accommodation of the residents of the city,” Hadami pointed out.

'Palestine waiting for strong US position against Israeli settlements'

Also on Thursday, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement that the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority is waiting for a strong position from the international community, the United States in particular, against Israel's settlement expansion activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The ministry stated that Israeli authorities have escalated construction of housing units in the illegal settlements as well as settler-only roads and tunnels, mainly in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds and surrounding neighborhoods.

It underscored that such an uptick would only “put more obstacles in the way of a negotiated political settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and would also make it even impossible to achieve peace on the basis of international agreements, specifically the principle of a [so-called] two-state solution.”

“The rise in illegal settlement construction and expansion activities is evidence of the Occupation’s intention to undermine international efforts to rekindle the peace process, and to systematically sabotage it,” the Palestinian foreign ministry underlined.

“The [Israeli] colonial settlement policy constitutes a daunting challenge for the international community, including the administration of new US President Joe Biden. It requires him to adopt a clear position consistent with his earlier remarks about rejection of settlement activities and annexation, in addition to his opposition to unilateral measures taken by the occupying regime,” the statement read.

Biden had claimed his administration would restore the US policy of opposing settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.

His predecessor Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the "capital" of Israel in December 2017 and announced in November 2019 that his administration no longer considered Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank a violation of international law.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

After Trump took office in December 2016, Israel stepped up its settlement expansion in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounces settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land.

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