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2 Feb, 2014 11:55

UN condemns Israel over destruction of Jordan Valley homes

UN condemns Israel over destruction of Jordan Valley homes

Israel has come under fire from the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories over the demolition of 36 homes in the Jordan Valley. The UN has called for the bulldozers to stop.

The destruction of the homes has displaced 66 people, with 36 of them children, according to the UN data.

Over the last year, more than 1,100 people have been forced to flee their homes after the demolition, which Israel explained was due to the lack of the authorities’ permission. However, the permission is “virtually impossible to obtain,” according to James Rawley, the UN coordinator.

"I am deeply concerned about the ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians... along the Jordan Valley where the number of structures demolished more than doubled in the last year," Rawley said in a statement.

He added that the destruction was “counter to international law” and leaves the Palestinians without “access to shelter and basic services.”

It comes as hundreds of activists have taken to the streets in an overnight protest in the Jordan Valley region.

On Friday, hundreds of Palestinians, along with foreign activists, set up a camp in abandoned houses on the West Bank and protested against the Israel’s refusal to pull out of the Jordan Valley should a peace deal be in place.

The demonstrators held a banner reading "No peace with settlements." The action was called "Melh al-Ard"(Salt of the Earth), activists said in their statement.

Palestinian protesters stand behind burning tyres in front of Israeli security forces during clashes following a protest against the demolition of a furniture factory which the Israeli authorities said was built without a permit on January 20, 2014 in the village of Deir Samet near the town of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank. (AFP Photo / Hazem Bader)

On Sunday, a new protest encampment was set up, called "al-Awda," or "Return," near the Bisan checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley, Ma’an news agency reported.

The protest is aimed at highlighting "the Arab character of the Jordan Valley" and rejecting "any projects to lease or annex it," said Khaled Mansour, who participated in the rally.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank have long been the stumbling block in the peace negotiations, as Tel Aviv has refused to freeze the construction of new settlements – a stance that has tended to stall the peace initiative.

Meanwhile, the latest opinion poll released by Zogby Research Services found that both Israelis and Palestinians don’t believe a peace deal will happen.

Nearly two decades after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands on the 1995 Oslo Accord peace deal brokered by then-US President Bill Clinton, "it is clear several deep differences exist," the pollster said.

At the time of the Oslo peace process, according to polls, 61 percent of Palestinians and 54 percent of Israelis said they were “hopeful."

"Twenty years later, only 18 percent of Palestinians and 19 percent of Israelis view Oslo as a positive development in the history of their relationship," the pollster said.

Only one-third of both Israelis and Palestinians now think a two-state solution will work. However, 74 percent of Israelis and 47 percent of Palestinians agree it would be the best outcome.

The UN has continuously spoken out against demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank.

In December, the organization condemned Israel’s destruction over two dozen Palestinian properties in the West Bank, issuing a statement accusing Israel of pushing the same Palestinian families out of their homes in less than two weeks.

Dozens of NGOs have also implored Israel not to carry on with the demolitions. Palestinian leaders maintain that resettlement efforts must cease if there is ever to be any chance of peace with Israel.