East Jerusalem: Sheikh Jarrah families need more than empty statements

Statement following the violences which occurred in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and Al-Aqsa mosque in East-Jerusalem.

Today’s visit by the EU Heads of Mission to the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem should serve to expose the reality on the ground: 550 Palestinians are currently facing forced eviction to make way for Israeli settlers, and the hundreds of Palestinians protesting these forced expulsions have been met with excessive force and extreme violence by Israeli authorities and settlers.  

Sadly, this is not new for East Jerusalem Palestinians who, for decades, have been subject to systematic discrimination and segregation policies to ensure Israel’s absolute demographic control over the city. Nor is this unique to East Jerusalem: forcible transfer of population, settler and military violence and rampant impunity for international law violations are all structural manifestations of Israel’s control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

Against such a background, European Union public statements and actions are increasingly detached from the situation on the ground. Despite the continued brutal treatment of Palestinians, in East Jerusalem and elsewhere, any consideration by the EU of Palestinian human rights continues to be subordinated to a false equivalence that puts on the same level the occupying power and the local population under occupation. 

Instead of empty statements, the EU should make it clear that forcible transfer of Palestinians in East Jerusalem constitutes a war crime. It should also point out to their Israeli interlocutors that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation, whose mandate includes crimes committed in East Jerusalem, and that the EU and its member states are obliged to share with the Court information and documentation that is relevant to the identification of those responsible for such crimes. 

The EU and its member states must hold the Israeli authorities to account for discriminating, displacing and dispossessing Palestinians, and for the daily, systematic human rights violations these suffer under occupation. 

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