The Shepherd Hotel demolition is at the forefront of a Jewish
effort to settle East Jerusalem that opponents charge could preclude
the formation of a Palestinian state with a capital in the holy
The demolition of an East Jerusalem hotel to make way for Jewish
homes in a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood has sparked
concerns from Europe to Egypt, which suggested a new intifada could
break out as a result.
The Shepherd Hotel project will bring only 20 Jewish homes to
Sheikh Jarrah, but it is at the forefront of a broader, intensely
controversial Jewish campaign to establish a foothold in Arab
neighborhoods circling the heart of Jerusalem.
Sheikh Jarrah shows intensifying battle for control of Jerusalem
Proponents see the efforts as a way to secure Jews' rightful
claims to the city as their "undivided and eternal capital."
Opponents, including much of the international community, say such
efforts will preclude the possibility of creating a Palestinian
state with a capital in East Jerusalem, thus rendering the two-
state solution null and void.
"If current trends are not stopped as a matter of urgency, the
prospect of east Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian
state becomes increasingly unlikely and unworkable," wrote 25
consuls-general from European Union member states in Jerusalem in a
new confidential report obtained by the Independent. "This, in turn,
seriously endangers the chances of a sustainable peace on the basis
of two states, with Jerusalem as their future capital."
History of the Shepherd Hotel
The Shepherd Hotel was built in the 1930s for the mufti of
Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini. According to a 2010 report by the US
National Archives (PDF), the mufti was a supporter of Adolf Hitler
who met the Nazi leader in 1941 and recruited Muslims for Hitler's
paramilitary, the SS. He never ended up living in the hotel.
After the 1967 war and its annexation of East Jerusalem, Israel
took possession of the hotel under its absentee property laws, which
apply to buildings whose owners are absent or considered members of
an enemy state. It then sold the property in 1985 to bingo magnate
Irving Moskowitz, a leader of the Jewish effort to establish a
greater foothold in East Jerusalem.
Mr. Moskowitz had originally sought to build 122 apartments on
the site, before finally getting approval for 20 apartments. The
Husseini family won a court order preventing changes to the
property, but that order expired the day before bulldozers moved
into Sheikh Jarrah early Sunday.
The Jerusalem District Court on Monday rejected a petition from
Husseini's descendants, claiming that the land was rightfully
"This is a sordid deal concocted by the Israeli government," said
Adnan Husseini, a member of the family and the Palestinian-
appointed governor of Jerusalem, according to Israel's Ynet news
outlet. "Our family is part of the Palestinian nation, and we
support a two-state solution for two peoples, also in Jerusalem....
Israel is making a mistake by destroying any chance to realize the
vision of peace and two states. Even though the court recognized the
deal, we won't allow it. …