European States criticize threatened Israeli house demolitions in Silwan

Is the Quartet coming apart?

One of the Quartet’s four members — the European Union — is keeping up a sustained post-Gaza-war resistance to Israeli policies in East Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Israeli threats in recent weeks to demolish over a hundred Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem (88 in Silwan, 55 in Shua’fat refugee camp, 27 in Wadi Joz/Sheikh Jarrah, 5 + 10 more in Abu Tor) makes the situation look like the Gaza war, but in slow motion.

Some Palestinians are annoyed at the attention being showered on the continuingly-awful situation in Gaza, complaining that it is designed to distract attention from what is happening in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Both situations are equally compelling, of course.

There are also mutual recriminations between West Bankers and East Jerusalemites, each accusing the others of doing nothing effective to stop the encroaching threats.

Or, perhaps the Quartet is not divided — maybe the members are simply dividing up their responsibilities — the U.S. is taking the lead on Gaza (sort of, and very conditionally — only $300 million of the recently-pledged money for rehabilitation and reconstruction would go to Gaza, and only if U.S. policy aims are respected … while $600 million would apparently go to the West Bank), while the EU is taking the lead on East Jerusalem… [However, the U.S. has held a couple of meetings with Palestinian Authority figures in East Jerusalem.]

The EU today issued a statement today saying that it is is “deeply concerned” about the threat of demolition to 88 homes in Silwan, just outside the walls of the Old City in East Jerusalem. The EU said that this “would be the largest destruction of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem since 1967 … Demolition of houses in this sensitive area threatens the viability of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement, in conformity with international law”.

A document recently obtained by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICHAD), which is described as a statement [it looks like a draft] by EU heads of mission in Ramallah and East Jerusalem, says that “East Jerusalem is of central importance to the Palestinians in political, economic, social and religious terms. Several inter-linked Israeli policies are reducing the possibility of reaching a final status agreement on Jerusalem, and demonstrate a clear Israeli intention to turn the annexation of East Jerusalem into a concrete fact: (1) the near-completion of the barrier around east Jerusalem, far from the Green Line; (2) the construction and expansion of illegal settlements, by private entities and the Israeli government, in and around East Jerusalem; (3) the demolition of Palestinian homes built without permits (which are all but unobtainable); (4) stricter enforcement of rules separating Palestinians resident in East Jerusalem from those resident in the West Bank, including a reduction of working permits; (5) and discriminatory taxation, expenditure and building permit policy by the Jerusalem municipality … Israel’s activities in Jerusalem are in violation of both its Roadmap obligations and international law. We and others in the international community have made our concerns clear on numerous occasions, to varying effect … Palestinians are, without exception, deeply alarmed about East Jerusalem. They fear that Israel will ‘get away with it’, under the cover of disengagement. Israeli actions also risk radicalising the hitherto relatively quiescent Palestinian population in East Jerusalem”.
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