Outrage at East Jerusalem Evictions

The United States and the UN have condemned Israel’s forcible eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem.

Washington sent a letter to the Israeli foreign ministry in Jerusalem, stressing the move went against the country’s obligations under the so-called "road map" to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

US diplomats said a high-level protest will be communicated to Israel later on Monday.

Speaking after the al-Ghawi and al-Hanoun families were evicted on Sunday, Robert Serry, the United Nations special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process, said: "I deplore today’s totally unacceptable actions by Israel.

"These actions are contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions related to occupied territory.

"These actions heighten tensions and undermine international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace."

The homes from where the Palestinians were evicted would reportedly give way to a hotel project believed to have been sanctioned by Israel.

In 1982, Israeli settler organizations began demanding rent from the Palestinian families of Sheikh Jarrah, who at that point had been living in the neighborhood for almost 30 years – and when many of the families refused to pay this rent, the first eviction orders were issued.

The legal proceedings continued over the years, and in 2006 it was ruled by court that the settler organizations did not have rights to the land, and the Israeli land registration department agreed to revoke the settler associations’ ownership.

Despite pending appeals and the lack of legal ownership of land in the neighborhood, the settler organizations sold their property claim in 2008 to an investment company.

‘Extremist Agenda’

The British consulate which, along with other foreign missions, is located in Sheikh Jarrah where the Palestinian families had been living for more than half a century, said it was "appalled".

The consulate said in a statement: "The Israelis’ claim that the imposition of extremist Jewish settlers into this ancient Arab neighborhood is a matter for the courts … is unacceptable.

"These actions are incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace.

"We urge Israel not to allow the extremists to set the agenda."

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said: "Tonight, while these new settlers from abroad will be accommodating themselves and their belongings in these Palestinian houses, 19 newly homeless children will have nowhere to sleep.

"If the Israeli prime minister continues with settlement activities, he will undermine the efforts to revive the peace process."

‘Civil Dispute’

But Yakir Segev, a member of Jerusalem’s municipal council, told Al Jazeera: "These are not actions made by Israel or the Israeli government. This is a matter of the court.

"It is a civil dispute between Palestinian families and those of Israeli settlers, regarding who is the rightful owner of this property … Israeli law is the only law we are obliged to obey.

"This is not part of an Israeli conspiracy …  The court decided that the Arab families are not the rightful owners of the property and this is why they had to be evicted.

"Jerusalem is one united city, in the same way that Arabs can purchase houses and land in the west part of Jerusalem, it’s the same for Jews."

The eviction on Sunday comes amid international calls for Israel to halt settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land.
 
(Aljazeera.net English and Agencies)

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