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Clinton: Israel's Demolition Plans 'Unhelpful'

Did the U.S. Secretary of State actually criticize Israel? At a joint press conference with Mahmoud Abbas? That's new: BRUSSELS, March 4 -- Secreta

Did the U.S. Secretary of State actually criticize Israel? At a joint press conference with Mahmoud Abbas? That's new:

BRUSSELS, March 4 -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday criticized the Israeli government for plans to demolish dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, calling the actions "unhelpful" and a violation of international obligations.

Clinton made the rare public complaint about Israeli actions in response to a question at a joint news conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, on the West Bank.

Israeli plans to destroy the homes in Arab East Jerusalem, which Palestinians consider the capital of a potential Palestinian state, have touched a nerve in Palestinian society.

The Jerusalem municipal government in recent weeks began planning to evict 1,500 residents and raze 88 homes in an area designated as a national park, on top of other demolition plans in the Silwan area. Israel says the homes were built without permits, but Palestinians say permits are impossible to obtain and that many of the homes were built before Israeli occupation in 1967.

"It is a matter of deep concern to those who are directly affected, but the ramifications go far beyond the individuals and families that have received the notices," Clinton said. "It will be taken up with the Israeli government."

Juan Cole warns that Clinton will be attacked by the far-right-wing Israel crowd, and urged people to support her speaking out - in fact, to urge her to use even stronger language the next time.

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