Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — and of course the UK, UN, EU etc. — sharply criticized Israel after several Arab families were evicted from homes in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled against them in a dispute over ownership of the homes.
The details of the dispute are very Middle Eastern, with claims on both sides going back to the Ottoman period. Simply, some Palestinians claim they own the homes while some Jews claim the Palestinians are squatting on their property. There is no way that I — or any other blogger or journalist — could possibly say anything intelligent about the facts or the law of this case, which is quite complicated.
What I can say is that given the makeup and the record of Israel’s Supreme Court, it is unthinkable that they did not bend over backward to be fair — or more — to the Palestinians.
The Court is the bête noir of right-wing and religious Israelis, who have strongly objected to its decisions in such matters as the security barrier, punishment of soldiers accused of mistreating Arabs, the participation of Arab parties and candidates opposed to the existence of Israel in Israeli elections, the right of Arabs to sue the IDF for damages resulting from actions in the territories, etc.
In short, if the Supreme Court saw fit to rule in favor of ‘settlers’ and against Palestinians, it’s a safe bet that the Jews had a damn good case.
But Mrs. Clinton didn’t go into facts or law. She said,
I think these actions are deeply regrettable … The eviction of families and demolition of homes in east Jerusalem is not in keeping with Israeli obligations and I urge the government of Israel and municipal officials to refrain from such provocative actions.
And the British Consulate issued a statement, which included the following:
We are appalled by the eviction in East Jerusalem this morning … These actions are incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace. We urge Israel not to allow the extremists to set the agenda.
Clinton, the British Consulate, the EU spokesperson and the UN “Special Envoy” did not need to take lessons in Israeli real estate law, which has elements from the Ottoman and British legal codes, nor did they need to look at the Turkish documents that both sides placed into evidence.
No, everyone seems to be in agreement that the real issue is that Israel has no right to decide anything in East Jerusalem (if you ask the US State Department, they would include West Jerusalem, too).
Although one wonders what they would have said if the Court had decided in favor of the Palestinians.
Like the insistence on a settlement freeze in which East Jerusalem neighborhoods that were populated by Jews before 1948 are “just settlements”, this incident exposes the desire on the part of the US and others to wrest control of part — maybe all — of Israel’s capital city away from her.