The East Jerusalem Eviction
Some of you may have seen the news in the past few days about the two Palestinian families, who had been occupying two houses in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah since 1948, having been evicted. The families were evicted under the pretense that there is supposed legal documentation that the two houses were purchased by Jewish families 100 years ago, in the early 1900s. In a fairly strongly worded editorial, Haaretz contends that Israel must allow the two Palestinian families to return to their homes:
Sweden, which holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, asserted that the evictions were illegal, while UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said they were violations of both the Geneva Conventions and Israel’s obligations under the road map peace plan.
As Haaretz rightly points out, this eviction is a hypocrisy of the highest order and a complete perversion of justice. No matter how many Israeli judges have signed off on it, it simply makes little sense:
No thinking person will be persuaded that Jews have a sweeping right to return to their homes in East Jerusalem as long as Israeli law not only bars Palestinians from returning to their homes in West Jerusalem, but even evicts them from the houses where they have lived for the last 60 years. The Israel Lands Administration’s regulations do not even allow Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to buy land and houses in many parts of the city.
From a PR perspective, it seems Israel continues to dig its own hole, since the Gaza offensvie late last year began international opinion has been steadily moving against the actions of the Israeli govenrment and it is no longer seen as the untouchable it once was. I have not personally been watching al Jazeera of late, but I’m sure any international news channel that televises images of these Palestinian families living on the street will probably spark emotion in its viewing public, especially given the extremely tenuous legal justification for the eviction.
Washington’s response to this debacle has once again been mixed. Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, has been called in by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman. Haaretz reports that Feltman called the eviction a “provocative” and “unacceptable” act that violates Israel’s obligations under the road map peace plan. On the other hand, as Mondoweiss points out, Hillary Clinton’s comment that the eviction was “deeply regrettable” does not go far enough, and more is expected from senior and more visible figures in the Obama administration.
It has been stated time and time again that the Obama administration needs to put more pressure on Israel to stop settlement expansion and counterproductive measures such as this one, but it seems a new low has been reached when it comes to reason and justice. This eviction has absolutely no justified or legal basis, it is hypocritical and it is an affront to human rights. Universal condemnation is deserved.