Monday, August 3, 2009

While U.S. reps condemn house evictions, U.S. aid makes them possible

A U.S. State Department spokesperson has condemned the eviction of Palestinian families from their East Jerusalem houses as part of the Israeli government's policy of supporting Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. The two families--the Hanouns and the al-Ghawis--have lived in their East Jerusalem houses since 1956, when they were given houses as part of their refugee status after fleeing West Jerusalem during the 1948 war. East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967. In all, 53 people have been made homeless by the evictions, and Israeli settlers--guarded by Israeli police and military--have already moved into their homes. Here's an Al Jazeera report on the evictions: U.S. State Department spokesperson Megan Mattson has condemned the evictions, stating that they violate Israel's obligations under the U.S.-brokered "Road Map":
"Unilateral actions taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community."
The evictions, and the settlement plan that they are a part of, threaten Palestinian hopes for maintaing East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and decrease the likelihood for a negotiated settlement on Jerusalem as part of a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. Despite State Department condemnation, however, these evictions would not be possible without the support of billions of dollars of U.S. military aid, which enables these violations of human rights. The young soldiers who carried out the evictions and who now stand guard over the houses to prevent the Palestinian families from returning are armed with help from U.S. tax dollars--$2.775 billion for FY2010 and a project total of $30 billion between 2007-2017, to be exact. The guns they point, the bullets they fire, the communications equipment that coordinates their activities, the bulldozers they use to destroy houses and even tents--are all provided by the U.S. government and U.S. companies. In addition to official U.S. support for the Israeli occupation, private American donors and companies also play a role. (
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a member group of the US Campaign, has filed a complaint with the Department of Treasury in regards to tax-exempt donations being used to fund settlements.) Here's Israeli-American activist Joseph Dana reporting on the contributions of U.S. citizens to the colonization of East Jerusalem:
"This is just one of several plans by various real estate groups such as Nahalat Shimon International and American businessmen such as Irving Moskowitz, to populate the areas surrounding the Old City with Jewish strongholds that sever Palestinian territorial contiguity in East Jerusalem. This prejudices any final resolution in which East Jerusalem would be the Palestinian capital. It is also in clear breach of Israel’s commitment under the Road Map. But these operations are backed by the Israel Lands Administration, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli government, who are all working together to undermine any possibility for a two-state solution and are blatantly infringing on the basic human rights of the citizens of what they deem to be the “united Jerusalem.”"
Dana has also posted the following video of the aftermath of the evictions on his blog: The condemnation of the State Department rings hollow in the face of massive U.S. military aid and the involvement of American citizens in the spread of Israeli settlements. If we want to stop evictions, settlement growth, and other violations of international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people, we need to act to change U.S. policy. You can act to change U.S. policy by organizing in your local community against U.S. military aid, meeting with your elected representatives, and taking steps to challenge U.S. companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. Let's make sure that those U.S. policies that have left the
Hanouns, the Rawis and the al-Ghawis homeless are soon a thing of the past.