UN experts denounce Israel’s “brutal” handling of the protests in Jerusalem, urge an end to the evictions
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: May 11, 2021
United Nations human rights experts have expressed their grave concern about Israel’s aggressive response to the protests in East Jerusalem, calling on Israel, as the occupying power, to immediately lift its threat to expel hundreds of Palestinian families from their legal homes in East Jerusalem.
In a statement published by the Media Center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, the experts said: “Re-establishing calm in Jerusalem is important, but creating the conditions for justice and equality in the City are even more important. Neither short-term calm nor long-term peace will be accomplished as long as the national and individual rights of the City’s Palestinian population are routinely abrogated.”
Hundreds of Palestinians, as well as some Israeli police officers, have been wounded in the violence that took place in recent days due to forcible evictions by the Israeli authorities of homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and other old neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
The experts pointed out that the ongoing and threatened evictions of Palestinian families from their homes, primarily in the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, are based on two Israeli laws: the Absentee Property Law of 1950 and the Legal and Administrative Matters Law of 1970. The 1950 law prohibits Palestinians from reclaiming their properties lost in the 1947-49 war, while the 1970 law allows Israeli Jews to re-claim properties lost during the same war. Evictions of Palestinian families under these laws have recurred many times over the years, raising deep concerns about impunity and lack of accountability.
“These laws are inherently discriminatory, both in intent and in application, and they violate fundamental principles of both international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” said the experts. “An occupying power is prohibited from confiscating private property belonging to the protected population, and it must respect the body of existing laws which had governed the territory, unless it is absolutely necessary to alter them.
“The forced transfer of the population under occupation is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which contribute to the coercive environment now prevailing in East Jerusalem. As well, these evictions breach the right to adequate housing – a core human right in international law.”
“The proper step for Israel to take is to remove the threat of eviction, have the property rights of these Palestinian families respected and legal regularized, and annul all discriminatory legislation from its laws.”
The UN Security Council has repeatedly condemned both annexation and settlements as null and void under international law, and demanded Israel to abolish its illegal actions. UN human rights experts repeatedly called on Israel over the years to comply with its international obligations and stop the evictions, demolitions and forced displacement of Palestinians from their lands, but Israel has been saying that it does not intend to comply with the directives of the international community.