RAMALLAH, September 19, 2013 (WAFA) – Saeb Erekat, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee and the official in charge of negotiations with Israel, wrote the four principle members of the Quartet for Middle East peace urging them to act immediately to force Israel to cease its measures in occupied East Jerusalem.
In the letter Erekat said he sent on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas to US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, he warned that Israel’s acts in the city could undermine peace talks.
“I am writing to you, on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas, with urgency about Israel’s recent eviction notices in Alqurma neighborhood in the Old City, and the on-going Israeli settlers forced entrance into al-Haram al-Sharif in Occupied East Jerusalem with the full support of the Israeli authorities,” he wrote.
Alqurma neighborhood is where 28 Palestinian families were give notices by the Israeli West Jerusalem municipality to evacuate their homes after cracks were discovered in the walls, ceilings and foundations caused by Israeli digs below the Old City.
“Israel’s continued excavations in the Old City threaten its integrity and that of al-Haram al-Sharif compound,” said Erekat, accusing Israel of breaching the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition against destroying property and of its duty to ensure the protection and conservation for future generations of this World Heritage Site.
“The current activities are part of Israel’s unilateral policy of creating facts on the ground to consolidate its interests in East Jerusalem and to irrevocably ensure its exclusive control over the future of the holy city,” he said, warning, “Such systematic and provocative acts threaten any prospect for a negotiated peace settlement between Israel and Palestine. They are particularly destructive at a time when the parties are engaged in a negotiation process to reach a permanent status agreement.”
Erekat asked the four Quartet officials to “immediately take all measures within your means to pressure Israel to permanently cease to evict Palestinians from their homes and to refrain from further destructive acts, including excavations in the Old City, and the Israeli settlers’ provocative acts in al-Haram al-Sharif which could inflame the situation and undermine the current opportunity to move toward peace.”