Press release from Luisa Morgantini, Vice-President of the European Parliament
Brussels, 12th November 2008
Israeli police recently expelled the Al–Kurd family from its house, in the dark of night, in the Sheikh Jarrah area in East Jerusalem. The family includes Umm Kamal, the mother, her husband – who is partially paralysed and suffering from chronic heart disease – and their 5 children. Already refugees in 1948, when they were displaced from West Jerusalem, the family has once again been dispossessed of its home, where it has been living since 1956.
A group of extremist settlers claim ownership to that house and 26 other houses in the same neighbourhood, on the basis of an Ottoman title deed dating from 1880, the authenticity of which is doubtful and which is also disputed by United States.
One week ago, a European Parliament delegation to the Palestinian Occupied Territories, composed of deputies from different political groups and including myself, visited the Al-Kurd family in its home: we witnessed the violence and abuse suffered by the family because of settlers who live in the same courtyard. They no longer have that home.
In the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, more than 500 Palestinians face the daily threat of expulsion from their homes because of Jewish extremist associations’ claims, who apply Palestinian Population Transfer policies.
The expulsion of the Al-Kurd family is part of a colonial Israeli policy, which jeopardises any chance of a peace process, day by day, demolition after demolition, colony after colony, and particularly in Jerusalem.
In this city, after many years of labour, right-wing and ultra-orthodox administration, which permitted the illegal the expansion of Israeli colonies to the eastern part of the city, Nir Barkat – who made the construction of new Jewish colonies within East Jerusalem the first priority of his campaign – was yesterday elected mayor.
An end should immediately be put to these policies and they must be condemned and sanctioned by the International Community.
The situation of confusion generated by the change from the Bush administration to the subsequent and more promising Obama administration means that we cannot remain silent about these and similar violations in West Bank as well as in Gaza where, due to the siege, the situation continues to deteriorate. Only yesterday were crossings reopened, after 6 days’ closure, after a black-out resulting from a total lack of fuel and after the state of alert declared by UNRWA which denounced – because of the closure – the absolute impossibility to distribute aid to the 750.000 Palestinians living in the refugee camps. And we now shudder to think about the possibility that the truce will definitively be broken because of the four Palestinians killed today by fire from Israeli warplanes, which came back to fly and shoot from the sky above the Strip.
Last Monday, the EU Presidency expressed its deep concern at the demolitions by Israeli bulldozers of several Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem. It is high time that Brussels does all in its power to ensure that the arbitrary and unilateral measures by the Israeli Government do not destroy all chances of a peace process. This is more urgent today than ever before and it is evident that all useful instruments must be used – including the suspension of the EU-Israel Association agreement – to ensure that International Law is respected.