Israel is isolated. The United States and others have strongly condemned a domestic decision, which has been confirmed by various courts all the way up to the Supreme Court, evicting long-time Arab squatters from property that is not theirs.
The property in question is located in the northeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Shimon HaTzaddik, also known as Sheikh Jarrah. Though the property has been owned by a Sephardic Jewish organization for over 120 years, Arabs were placed there by Jordan following its conquest of Jerusalem in 1948.
“We know the justness and truthfulness of what we are doing. This is the Jewish homeland, and we have come home.”
Over the course of the past ten years, Jewish groups have actively sought to restore the Jewish character of the neighborhood – which also features the traditional gravesite of the Talmudic sage Simon the Just (Shimon HaTzaddik). The focus of their activity is in the courts, where they have proven to “more than 15 judges in various courts,” according to one activist, that the properties are theirs.
“In addition,” the source told Israel National News, “the squatters have done all they could to show that they deserve no protection from the law. They have not paid rent, they have rioted, they have built illegally, they have presented forged documents – and they even include among their number some who have been in prison for security crimes!”
Several properties were evacuated of their illegal squatters on Sunday morning, and some of them are already populated by young Jewish families; more volunteers, including singles and families with young children, are required.
Despite the legality and historic justice of the proceedings, foreign countries including the United States have unequivocally condemned Israel for them. U.S. State Department spokesperson Meggan Mattson released a statement saying Israel had acted in violation of the Roadmap plan, and that “unilateral actions taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community.”
The United Nations also castigated Israel for evicting the illegal squatters. “I deplore the totally unacceptable actions by Israel in which Israeli security forces evicted Palestinian refugee families… to allow settlers to take possession of their properties,” said Richard Miron of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
A person close to the efforts to return the neighborhood to its Jewish character commented, “It’s true that the photos of the evicted families appearing in the world press are not favorable to our cause, but we know the justness and truthfulness of what we are doing. This is the Jewish homeland, and we have come home.”
Senior Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erakat expressed outrage, telling reporters, “Israel is once again showing its utter failure to respect international law.” Ignoring Israeli justice, Erekat said the homes are “Palestinian houses,” and lamented that “19 newly homeless children will have nowhere to sleep.”
The British consulate in Jerusalem, which happens to be located in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood together with several other foreign missions, also released a statement of condemnation, saying, “The Israelis’ claim that the imposition of extremist Jewish settlers into this ancient Arab neighbourhood is a matter for the courts or the municipality is unacceptable.”