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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Evictions in East Jerusalem Continue Despite International Pressure

t r u t h o u t | Israel's Jerusalem Evictions Defy Obama, Undermine Peace Process
Israel said the evictions were legal and mandated by a ruling of its supreme court. But the country's decision Sunday to forcibly remove two Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem - and to immediately usher in Jewish replacements - has complicated the prospects for successful peace talks any time soon.

On Monday, three people protesting the eviction were arrested by the police. The two families had lived in the homes for almost 50 years. They moved into the neighborhood after being evicted from their homes in West Jerusalem in 1947 by Israeli forces.

Two families might not seem like much after a 50-year conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands and cost countless lives. But they came in symbolically fraught East Jerusalem, where President Barack Obama has practically begged Israel to stop settlement expansion to give peace talks a chance. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 - a move that the international community has not accepted - and Palestinians hope the eastern portion of the city will one day form the capital of their own independent state.

The images beamed around the region were a stark illustration of the Israeli-Palestinian divide as could be imagined: Israeli soldiers force distraught families from their homes and then stand guard as Orthodox Jewish settlers bring in moving vans and take possession (an Al Jazeera English video report on the event is here). The event will have likely deepened a growing Arab belief that Obama will not be more successful than his predecessors in advancing the peace process.

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