In response to the report, the mayor's office provided figures that show demolitions in East Jerusalem in previous years has been similar or higher than this year's so far, arguing that there was no marked increase in demolitions carried out. The statement added that there has been no change in enforcement policy since Barkat took office, and "no foundation to the claim that an order was given to expand it.... The municipality acts in respect for the rule of law and enforces legal decrees as is expected."
Palestinian building curtailed; Jewish settlements expand
The report comes in the midst of Mr. Netanyahu's first official visit with President Barack Obama in the US since becoming prime minister. Underscoring their differences, Mr. Obama emphasized the necessity of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while Netanyahu conspicuously avoided an endorsement of that formula, saying that Palestinians should be able to "govern themselves" and that he favors increased economic cooperation.
Part of Obama's formula for restarting the peace process includes the expectation for Netanyahu to rein in Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank. That stipulation is outlined in the road map – a blueprint for peace adopted by Israel in 2003.
But for Palestinians, and for others supporting a two-state solution, equally troubling is the creation of new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem – Israel calls them neighborhoods – while building in existing Palestinian neighborhoods is severely curtailed.