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Palestinian Families Evicted from Jerusalem Homes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli police kicked out two Palestinian families from their homes in occupied east Jerusalem on Sunday to pave the way for an Israeli housing project that has triggered international protests.

Large numbers of police moved in at dawn into the homes in Sheikh Jarrah, an upmarket Arab district of the city, after an Israeli court rejected an appeal against the eviction of the Palestinians.

The evictions come after Jerusalem authorities gave permission for about 20 housing units in Sheikh Jarrah, triggering an outcry from the international community which has called on Israel to halt all settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land.

Sheikh Jarrah is one of the most sensitive neighbourhoods closest to the so-called Green Line which separates east and west Jerusalem, with the fate of the city one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The British consulate, which is located in Sheikh Jarrah along with a number of other foreign missions, said it was “appalled” by the Israeli action.

“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,” it said in a statement.

“These actions are incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace. We urge Israel not to allow the extremists to set the agenda.”

Israel’s refusal to heed Washington’s demands to stop all settlement activity in east Jerusalem and the West Bank has seen tensions between the two staunch allies rise to a level not seen in years.

The Sheikh Jarrah housing project is on a site known to Palestinians as Karm al-Mufti, which had once belonged to the grand mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, and in 1985 was bought by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz.

Moskowitz has previously financed settlement projects in the occupied West Bank, including east Jerusalem.

Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Michael Oren, was summoned to the State Department last month to be told the project should be halted.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community.

It sees all of Jerusalem as its “eternal, undivided” capital and does not consider construction in east Jerusalem to be settlement activity.

The Palestinians want to make the east of the city — home to some 200,000 Jewish Israelis and 268,000 Palestinians — the capital of their future state.

The issue of settlements is a key stumbling block between Israel and the Palestinians, who have refused to revive stalled peace talks unless settlement building is halted.

Israel said meanwhile said it was seeking clarifications from Britain about statements from one of its diplomats who reportedly said London was financing Palestinian property projects in east Jerusalem.

“We have asked the British embassy in Tel Aviv to provide explanations concerning the statements made on July 22 to Al-Arabiya television by the diplomat Martin Day who is based in Abu Dhabi,” spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

According to a transcript of the interview provided by Israel, Day said Britain was funding construction projects in east Jerusalem in a bid to halt Israel’s settlement activity.

“We are financing projects aimed at stopping settlement activity,” Day reportedly said. “One of these projects aims at building a new Palestinian neighbourhood in east Jerusalem and at protecting Palestinian homes from being demolished.”