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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Jerusalem demolitions 'on hold'
By Barbara Plett
BBC News, Jerusalem

An Israeli peace activist demonstrates in the Silwan area of East Jerusalem
Israelis and Palestinians have been protesting against the demolitions
Israel is easing up on a plan to demolish 88 Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

It says it is checking possibilities for co-operation with the residents of the targeted neighbourhood.

The plan appears to have been put on hold following widespread media coverage and strong criticism from Israeli activists.

Jerusalem's municipality had argued it was simply imposing building laws.

Officials said the Palestinian neighbourhood was designated green space and an important archaeological site.

Joint committee

They said most of the houses there had been built without permits and must be cleared to make way for a park.

But anti-demolition activists said the project was part of an ongoing Israeli policy to make occupied East Jerusalem more Jewish by clearing out Palestinians to make room for Jewish settlers.

Now, the municipality says it will set up a joint committee with the residents to try and reach a mutually agreeable solution.

A spokesman said that would include trying to locate alternative land for them.

But according to a lawyer for the residents, the municipality has not actually stopped court proceedings.

He urged it to make the houses legal by changing the zoning laws.

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