Shimon Hatzaddik (Sheikh Jarrah) and surrounding area
Shimon Hatzaddik (Sheikh Jarrah) and surrounding area Nati Shohat/Flash90

The Foreign Ministries of France, Germany, Italy and Spain on Wednesday issued a statement in which they criticized Israel for evicting illegal buildings built in the Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon Hatzadik) neighborhood in Jerusalem.

In the same statement, the four European countries also urged Israel to stop its plans to build new homes in neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

“We are deeply concerned at the decision to advance plans for the construction of hundreds of new housing units in East Jerusalem, including between Givat HaMatos and Har Homa. The new housing units would further disconnect the West Bank from East Jerusalem and constitute an additional obstacle to the Two-State Solution. We urge the Israeli authorities to reverse this decision,” they wrote.

“This decision directly threatens the viability of a future Palestinian state. Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and stand in the way of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” added the four countries.

“We are also deeply concerned by the recent developments in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East-Jerusalem. We urge the Israeli Government to permanently halt eviction and demolition procedures of Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem, as well as in Area C, which contribute to fueling tensions on the ground,” the statement concluded.

The statement came hours after the Israel Police carried out an eviction order of illegal buildings built on grounds designated for a school for children with special needs in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem.

“The evacuation of the area has been approved by all the courts, including the Jerusalem District Court. Since the evacuation order was issued in 2017, members of the family living in the illegal buildings were given countless opportunities to hand over the land with consent, but unfortunately they refused to do so, even after meetings and repeated dialog attempts by the Jerusalem municipality,” the Israel Police and the Jerusalem Municipality said in statement.

On Monday, one Arab barricaded himself on the roof of his family's illegal home, taking a gas balloon with him and threatening to blow himself up if police attempted to remove him.

The statement by the four European countries also came hours after Tor Wennesland, the UN envoy to the Middle East, criticized Israeli construction plans in Jerusalem in remarks before a Security Council briefing on the Middle East.

“I reiterate that all settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace. I call on the Government of Israel to cease the advancement of all settlement activity immediately,” he said.

In October, Israel issued tenders for 1,300 housing units for Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as for housing units in Givat Hamatos.

That move was condemned by the European Union, which said that "settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between the parties. The European Union has consistently made clear that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides."

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