AL-QUDS – In a move that will hinder hopes for a peace process, Israel has announced plans to build a Jewish religious school in Al-Quds (Occupied East Jerusalem) along with a settlement facility among efforts seen as aiming to Judaize the holy city.
“[Israel’s plan to] build a Jewish school and a settlement facility in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods, especially Sheikh Jarrah, is a blow to American efforts [in the peace process],” Ahmed Qorei, the Head of Jerusalem Affairs Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in statement cited by World Bulletin on Wednesday, February 12.
According to Al Qorei, Israel would also move some of its government offices to the occupied holy city.
He has also criticized Israeli plans to erect a Jewish school that will be accompanied by a new building for its National Insurance Institute.
“The Israeli cabinet continues to move government offices to Sheikh Jarrah to impose a status quo that aims to thwart the announcement of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state,” Qorei added.
Denouncing the ongoing Israeli plans to Judaize Al-Quds, Qorei said: “East Jerusalem is an occupied land and it’s the capital of the Palestinian state.”
“Any settlement projects conducted on its land are illegal and illegitimate and only aims at halting peace efforts,” he added.
The PLO’s committee on Al-Quds affairs is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the new Israeli actions.
Last Friday, scores of Palestinian Muslim worshippers have been injured after Israeli forces raided Al-Aqsa mosque in Al-Quds firing stun grenades and rubber bullets at worshippers.
Al-Quds is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam's third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel occupied the holy city and the West Bank in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.
Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of the city, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.
As the new plans were announced, the Israeli forces raided a number of homes in Al-Quds, arresting five Palestinian children
According to eyewitnesses, the arrested children are under 15 and were taken from the Old City and the neighborhood of Oqbah al-Khalidiya.
The new arrests increased the number of detained Palestinian children by Israeli forces to about 200 children, according to non-official tallies.
On the same day, a Palestinian family was ordered to vacate their home to be demolished.
“Israeli municipal workers accompanied by policemen stormed two houses of Al-Abasi family on Tuesday in Jabel Mukaber neighborhood and hanged a demolition order on two apartments owned by the family,” an eyewitness said.
In 2013, Israel has demolished more than 500 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and the occupied East Jerusalem, according to the UN.
Al-Aqsa is the Muslims’ first Qiblah [direction Muslims take during prayers] and it is the third holiest shrine after Al Ka`bah in Makkah and Prophet Muhammad's Mosque in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
Its significance has been reinforced by the incident of Al Isra'a and Al Mi'raj — the night journey from Makkah to Al-Quds and the ascent to the Heavens by Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him).
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