EU will continue to defend the rights of Palestinians to live in Jerusalem: EU diplomat
The Israeli-run Jerusalem municipality handed out a demolition notice on Monday to 74-year-old Fatemeh Salem, a Palestine refugee and a long-time resident of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem.
"We were surprised to see municipal clerks and Israeli forces this morning. They gave us a demolition notice," Ibrahim Salem, Fatemeh's son, told a group of EU diplomats visiting Sheikh Jarrah residents facing demolition or eviction orders.
According to the Salem family, the demolition notice does not cover the entire home but only a part.
Fifteen members of the Salem family live in a small building divided into three apartments. They have been fighting off forcible transfer from their home for years after the Israeli courts ruled in favour of ownership claims by extreme Jewish settler groups.
Head of the EU delegation in the West Bank and Gaza, Sven Kuehn Von Burgsdorff, told The New Arab the "EU would continue to defend the rights of Palestinians to live here [in Sheikh Jarrah]."
"Settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territories is against international law, and so are evictions and demolitions," he added.
When asked if he thinks Israel would take note of the EU diplomats' visit to various neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. The German diplomat said, "I hope so," and reminded Israel that it's not only the EU that opposes settlements but also the United States.
"We all agree that at this crucial point in time when tensions are high in East Jerusalem and the West Bank we don't want to add fuel to the fire."
About a dozen EU diplomats and human rights activists visited Palestinians at risk of forcible displacement in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and the Old City of Jerusalem.
Israeli law allows only Jews to reclaim properties lost in 1948.
In 1970 the Israeli parliament legislated a law that allowed Jews to reclaim properties lost during the 1948 war. However, the law excluded Palestinians who lost property in the same conflict, including Palestinian citizens of Israel.
The Salem family came close to being evicted from their home in December 2021, but the Israeli government put the eviction order on hold under public and diplomatic pressure.
On Monday, the Israeli municipality demolished a commercial structure in Wadi el-Joz in occupied East Jerusalem to make way for a "park" in the area. Last week, municipal crews destroyed three homes belonging to the Tota'ah family close to today's demolition site.
At least 61 structures have been demolished in East Jerusalem since the start of the year.