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Jews To Build in Muslim Quarter

May 27, 1998

JERUSALEM (AP) _ A group of Jewish settlers said Wednesday that they were determined to build in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s walled Old City, where clashes broke out this week when they erected seven tin shacks.

``In a few months maybe, we will start to build housing, we will get permission,″ said Yossi Kaufman, spokesman for the Ateret Cohanim group.

Eight families, including about a dozen children, spent the night in the shacks put up Tuesday by the group near Herod’s Gate. Several hundred Palestinian protesters, including legislators and Cabinet ministers, clashed with police Tuesday morning and succeeded in tearing down one of the shacks.

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert ordered the families to evacuate the site by 7 p.m. Wednesday (1600 gmt), saying the shacks were built without the required approval of the Israel Lands Administration.

``We all want construction in Jerusalem, but we are strong enough to build Jerusalem without being the ones that back the breaking of the law,″ he said on Israel Radio.

Kaufman said the settlers would go peacefully if they were evacuated.

A little boy played in one shack, sparsely furnished with a mattress, a blanket, a small table with two metal chairs and a baby pool _ an escape from the sweltering heat. Israeli soldiers patrolled the Old City wall at the back of the enclave and the rooftops of neighboring houses.

Small Palestinian children peered apprehensively at the settlers and the formidable brigade of troops through the fencing of a playground overlooking the settlement’s red tin roofs.

``All the time Netanyahu said `We want security and peace.′ Do you see security? Look at the soldiers all around. Our children are afraid,″ said Nabil Abu Omar, a resident of the surrounding Arab neighborhood.

Ateret Cohanim is actively involved in settling Jews in Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as their capital, and the settlers were adamant about their right to live in the Muslim Quarter.

``It is right for us to live here because this is the heart of the state of Israel. I want to live here,″ said Ohad Krakover.

Israel’s Army Radio said the city and Ateret Cohanim were working out a compromise under which the settlement would be removed in return for the settlers getting permission to build there in the future.

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