RAMALLAH, Mar. 10 (JMCC) - The neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah
has become a focal point in the political and demographic battle for East Jerusalem
, between Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers forcing their way inside.
Over the last several months Sheikh Jarrah has played host to weekly demonstrations against the home evictions of Palestinian families by the municipal authorities. As the protests have grown in size and stature--culminating in a mass rally attended by 3,000 people last Friday--a number of prominent Israeli activists have joined the milieu.
This trend has marked the beginning of a resurgence in the Israeli peace movement after years of perceived apathy. After the collapse of the Oslo Accords
in 2000, the Israeli-left has struggled to gain any traction in Israeli politics, however, Sheikh Jarrah is now providing a rallying point.
Heavy-handed police action against the demonstrators has only brought them more support. In January, 17 protesters were held for 36 hours after the police declared a rally illegal; a Jerusalem court later ruled that there was no basis for their arrest.
Accessibility is another draw. Unlike the relatively remote Palestinian villages where young Israeli leftists and anarchists join local residents and foreigners in protests against Israel’s West Bank barrier
, Sheikh Jarrah is a few minutes’ drive from downtown Jerusalem.
Because of both the humanitarian and political aspects of the case, Israeli advocacy groups like Rabbis for Human Rights and Ir Amim, which focuses on Israeli-Palestinian relations in the city, have campaigned to bring it into the public eye.
Orly Noy, a spokeswoman for Ir Amim, said that by opening up the 1948 files, the Israeli authorities had crossed “a very dangerous red line.”
Israel claims sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, including the annexed eastern part that it captured in the 1967 war. The Palestinians demand the eastern section, including Sheikh Jarrah, as the capital of a future state. They see the Jewish settlement there as part of a larger plan to cement Israeli control...
For some Israelis that do not necessarily support the activists in Sheikh Jarrah, the justifications of the settlers for taking over such properties, provides an even more worrisome problem. Read
more at The New York Times