EU delegation pays visit to family at imminent threat of forced expulsion in Jerusalem

WAFA  /  June 8, 2023

The delegation of European diplomats visited the Ghaith-Sub Laban family, whose house is located just a few dozen meters away from Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Muslim Quarter of Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.

The family will be forcibly dispossessed and removed from their house where they have lived for decades by 11 June.

“This takes place in a context, where an estimated 150 Palestinian families in East Jerusalem are at risk of forced eviction & displacement by Israeli authorities,” the EU Delegation to the Palestinians tweeted.

The Delegation recalled the EU’s “opposition to Israel’s settlement policy & actions taken in this context, including evictions.”

Palestinians have maintained that the Israeli occupation authorities’ decision to “evict” the families from their houses in favor of the settler groups is politically-motivated and comes as part of Israel’s efforts to ethnically cleanse Jerusalemite Palestinians.

Since the occupation of Jerusalem by Israel in June 1967, Israeli settler colonial organizations, including Elad and Ateret Cohanim, have claimed ownership of Palestinian property in Jerusalem. Backed by the Israeli state, judiciary and security services, these organizations have been working on wresting control of Palestinian property and converting it into colonial outposts as part of the efforts to ensure a Jewish majority in the city, as well as on managing archaeological sites in Silwan and overseeing their excavation. This scheme involves building new colonial tourist sites, such as the “City of David”, to bolster their propaganda.

According to a report by Charlotte Silver, an independent journalist and regular writer, for The Electronic Intifada, in the 19th century, religious Jews from Europe emigrated to Jerusalem and began to buy properties in the Old City. As University of Exeter politics professor Michael Dumper details, the purchases were often made by rabbis who raised funds to establish a kollel, or study group, that usually consisted of a synagogue and residential buildings.

These properties were abandoned in the early 20th century during the Palestinian revolts against British and Zionist colonization. After the 1948 war and the expulsion by Zionist militias of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, these empty properties were temporarily used to house refugees from the western part of Jerusalem.

Most of the properties in question, including the Sub Laban home, came under Jordanian control after the war. Until 1967, Jordanian authorities would lease land and properties to Palestinians like the Sub Labans. After Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the properties came under control of Israel’s General Custodian.

Palestinians remained as residents, but since the 1980s, private settler groups have tried to claim the properties for Jewish residents in close cooperation with official government bodies.

Over the last three decades, these groups have established a string of Jewish properties in the Muslim Quarter where they’ve evicted Palestinian families.

At the same time, Israel still refuses to allow hundreds of thousands of Palestinians expelled from their homes since 1948, and their descendants, to reclaim their properties and return to their homes.