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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Groups say settlements increasing in and around Jerusalem’s Old City

Settlement efforts, especially in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and in the Palestinian village of Silwan just outside of the Old City’s Dung Gate, are in constant flux and have been stepped up over the past year.

The nonprofit Ir Amim organization said that within the previous several weeks, Jerusalem witnessed a renewed spate of demolitions and demolition orders, mostly in what it refers to as the “Historic Basin,” an area around the Old City. It also cited an increase in evictions in the Old City and surrounding neighbourhoods.

The Ir Amim newsletter said about 105 units — out of thousands of outstanding orders– have come under new or renewed threat of demolition.

“These collective and fast-unfolding developments signify a steep increase over last year and a clear pattern of using demolitions and evictions to displace Palestinians from the city,” the newsletter said.

Until Palestinian-Jewish riots broke out in the old City in 1929 and the mid-1930s, the unofficial borders among the different communities of the Old City were porous. In certain areas, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived as neighbours.

But since the 1967 war, when Israel captured the Old City from the Jordanians, the city has been divided — artificially say Palestinians — into roughly four quarters: Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Armenian.

On 9th May, a settlement group, Ateret Cohanim, bought a building with six apartments in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. According to a report in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Palestinian residents of the area said the settlers had a key to the vacant building when they entered and encountered no resistance.

In early May, another Palestinian family living in the Muslim Quarter lost a District Court appeal against an eviction notice they received from the same settlement group. Haaretz also reported that another settlement group lost a court case in Silwan recently and were forced to vacate an apartment they had taken possession of two years ago.

Jewish settlers have built on a residential street near the Damascus Gate, and settlers live in three other locations in the Christian Quarter.

Picture: The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, pictured at left, stands across from an Israeli settlement on the roof in the Arab section of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Jewish settlement is near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Redeemer in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill).