Demolition orders in Arab section rising under city's new mayor, despite UN demand for freeze

Home demolitions are rapidly rising in Arab East Jerusalem under the city's new mayor, an Israeli rights group has warned.

Over 1,000 new demolition orders have been issued during Nir Barkat's first six months in office, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said.

Earlier this month, the UN demanded that Israel freeze all pending demolition orders in East Jerusalem, and do more to provide for the housing needs of Palestinians.

Building in the area of Arab East Jerusalem remains a highly politicised issue. Many Palestinian and Arab residents of the city often build illegally due to difficulties in obtaining building permits.

Demolition orders are on the rise on the Arab side of the city

Palestinians wish the area to become the capital of a future state, while Jewish groups are trying to increase the number of Jewish settlements there.

The BBC said the municipality had described the ACRI report as deceptive and inaccurate.

Barkat has said he intends to streamline the application process for building permits, but ACRI warned the municipality had added two new requirements to the process, making it harder for Israeli Arabs and Palestinians to obtain permission to build.

ACRI also said Barkat had allocated only 7% of funds of a recent interim budget to East Jerusalem - the rest went to the Israeli west of the city.

Figures released by ACRI showed 67% of families live under the poverty line in East Jerusalem, and the district has a shortage of 1,500 classrooms.

Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since 1967.