Israeli settlers take over east Jerusalem home after court battle

Israeli police stand in front of a house after a Palestinian family was evicted in east Jerusalem's neighborhood of Silwan, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Officers removed the Siyyam family from the premises on Wednesday after an Israeli court ruled in favor of Elad, an Israeli group working to strengthen Jewish presence in east Jerusalem. (AP)
Updated 10 July 2019

Israeli settlers take over east Jerusalem home after court battle

  • The apartment in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan was home to a 53-year-old woman and her four children

JERUSALEM: Palestinian family was evicted from a home in east Jerusalem near the Old City on Wednesday after Israeli settlers won a court battle that stretched more than two decades, activists said.
The apartment in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan was home to a 53-year-old woman and her four children, according to Israeli NGO Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement expansion.
Police arrived and evicted the residents from the apartment and they will at least temporarily stay with relatives.
An Israeli court found that the Elad foundation, which seeks to increase the Jewish presence in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem, had legally purchased that portion of the property and ruled in its favor.
“To take us from the house is like taking my heart from my body,” one of the Palestinian residents, Ali Siyam, 20, told AFP.
Elad said in a statement “the property was purchased by Jewish people in accordance with the law, in good faith and in a fair and legal transaction.”
It added that “three separate courts verified that the property was lawfully purchased by Jews.”
The foundation, known in English as the City of David foundation, also oversees a nearby archaeological center in Silwan that seeks to demonstrate Jews’ historical connection to Jerusalem.
It was in the news recently when US officials attended an inauguration of an archaeological project it organized in Silwan, another break with traditional diplomatic practice by President Donald Trump’s White House that drew Palestinian outrage.
Their attendance was seen as further US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem.
Palestinians say Israel and groups such as Elad are on a systematic campaign to force them out of Jerusalem.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
It sees the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians view the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
East Jerusalem includes highly sensitive holy sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews that are located in the Old City near Silwan.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers now live in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem among around 2.9 million Palestinians.
Peace Now said in a statement “the settlement in Silwan not only harms the prospects for a conflict-ending agreement and stability in Jerusalem, it is also cruel and evil.”
It accused the settlers of “using their power and money to exhaust and impoverish the Palestinian families in legal proceedings so that they will have to agree to sell them homes.”


Russian envoy seeks to break ‘suffocating’ Beirut deadlock

Updated 30 September 2020

Russian envoy seeks to break ‘suffocating’ Beirut deadlock

  • Moscow move comes after Iran-backed factions block Macron reforms

BEIRUT: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov will visit Lebanon to discuss support for the crisis-hit country following the failure of French efforts to form an independent Lebanese government.

Bogdanov, the Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and North Africa, told Lebanese Democratic Party (LDP) leader Talal Arslan on Tuesday that “efforts and dialogue are needed to reach a solution that gets Lebanon out of the suffocating crisis it is going through.” 

In a meeting in Moscow on Monday, Bogdanov told Lebanese Ambassador Shawki Bou Nassar that he will visit Beirut in late October for talks with senior officials. 

It will be the first visit by a Russian official since the Beirut port blast on Aug. 4 devastated large areas of the capital and plunged the country into political turmoil.

The Russian move follows the failure of French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to form an independent Lebanese government and introduce reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help the country avoid a financial and economic meltdown.

Last Sunday, Macron gave Lebanese officials a six-week deadline to form a new government, accusing Lebanese leaders of betraying their pledges to him during a high-profile visit to Beirut in early September.

The accusations were directed at the Iran-backed Hezbollah and Amal Movement factions over obstruction of Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib’s plans for a new government.

Both factions were widely criticized in the wake of Adib’s resignation on Saturday and accused of sabotaging the French initiative.

On Monday, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said that Tehran rejected claims of “external interference in Lebanon’s affairs.”

Amal Movement said that Macron’s accusations, as well as attempts to blame Amal Movement and Hezbollah, “are far from the facts and the realities of discussions with the prime Minister-designate.”

The political faction said that its leader, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, “is at the forefront of those keen to preserve Lebanon’s stability and the unity of its people.”

Berri’s political aide, former minister Ali Hassan Khalil, has been been hit by US sanctions on a string of charges, including corruption.

Zafer Nasser, secretary-general of the Progressive Socialist Party, told Arab News that the objectives of Bogdanov’s visit remain unclear and Lebanon must continue to support Macron’s efforts.

“The French initiative is our last chance and we must hold on to it,” he said.

With Lebanon’s central bank expected to begin reducing subsidies for the import of hydrocarbons in coming weeks, gas stations around the country experienced shortages on Tuesday due to delays in imports.

According to a representative of the Gas Station Owners Syndicate, George Brax, a partial reduction of subsidies will raise the price of a can of gasoline to between 37,000 and 40,000 Lebanese pounds, while with a total reduction, it will reach between 65,000 and 70,000 Lebanese pounds.

“If the dollar exchange rate continues to rise, the price of a can of gasoline may reach 85,000 Lebanese pounds,” he said.