The United States protested the planned eviction of Arabs from a Jerusalem dwelling slated for Jewish residence. U.S. diplomats in Israel also want explanations of a flurry of recent reports of settler harassment of Palestinians in the West Bank, Ha’aretz reported Friday. The al-Kurd family is awaiting an Israeli High Court ruling on an eviction that was to have taken place on July 15; a settler’s group sought the ouster of the family from their home in Sheik Jarrah, an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood abutting the Old City.
A group that promotes Jewish population of Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem had obtained the deed for the property based on an Ottoman-era document showing that it belonged to a Jewish society; the al-Kurd family had lived in the dwelling since the early 1950s, after it had fled western Jerusalem. The protest by the Israel-based U.S. diplomats comes as Israeli officials visiting Washington find themselves pressed by Bush administration officials on Israel’s perceived reluctance to ease conditions for the Palestinians in the West Bank. U.S. officials are particularly concerned with Israeli raids on Palestinian financial institutions, businesses and charities alleged to have ties to Hamas terrorists. The complaints also come as Israel’s Defense Ministry confirmed Thursday that it would allow the building of 22 homes in Maskiot, a barely populated settlement in the Jordan Valley, on the West Bank.