More Palestinian homes are slated to be demolished in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) despite the ongoing indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Israel’s Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced the demolitions on Wednesday, saying plans to raze the homes were previously delayed in the light of US efforts to renew the so-called peace process.
"There were times when the political echelon thought the timing for implementing the orders was inappropriate, because of diplomatic processes," Aharonovitch said during a Knesset session.
But now "there is nothing preventing us, nothing preventing us from executing the signed demolition orders tomorrow morning. The police will assist and provide full protection for the execution of the orders," he added.
The US State Department responded to Israel’s Wednesday demolition announcement by stressing that Washington would hold accountable any party sabotaging the talks.
"As we have said, if either side takes significant actions during the proximity talks that we judge would seriously undermine trust, we will respond to hold them accountable and ensure that negotiations continue," statement by special Mideast envoy George Mitchell.
The latest demolition orders are deemed as yet another blow to the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders had warned that the demolitions would undermine the indirect talks.
The Ramallah government’s move to enter US-mediated "proximity talks" with Tel Aviv has been criticized by other Palestinian factions who say the negotiations provide an opportunity for more Israeli violations against the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Tel Aviv has been resisting calls to freeze its settlement construction in the illegally annexed East al-Quds — the Palestinians’ long-held precondition to join the negotiation table.
The Israeli refusal comes in contract to US assurances that allegedly encouraged the Arab League and the Palestine Liberation Organization to throw their weight behind the resumption of Middle East peace talks.
Palestinians argue that the construction work seriously questions the viability of a two-state solution as Israel keeps building settlements on the land which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.