Lawlessness From Israeli Settlers
Israeli courts have declared the wall being built near the Palestinian village of Bilin illegal, and yet it continues to be built ["In the West Bank, Suburb or Settlement?," news story, June 30].
I visited the West Bank in October and saw other instances of this phenomenon: A court rules in favor of Palestinians, but the court's order is ignored or rendered meaningless. While in East Jerusalem, I stayed with Fawzieh and Mohammed al-Kurd, members of a family who became refugees in 1948 when they lost their home. A Jewish settler group wants to obtain the property the al-Kurds now own, along with the homes of 23 other Palestinian families in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood, in order to tear down the houses there and build new housing only for Jews.
The settler group registered a claim to ownership of the Palestinians' property in 1972, asserting that it had purchased the land in the late 1800s. An Israeli court ordered the Palestinian families of Sheik Jarrah to pay rent to the Jewish group, despite the fact that the families had owned and lived in their houses for decades.
The Sheik Jarrah families naturally refused to do so. In 2006, after an expensive legal battle, another Israeli court found the settlers' ownership claim to be fraudulent, but the land registrar of the Jerusalem municipality refused to reinstate the Palestinian families' ownership.
Fawzieh and Mohammed were evicted last November for refusing to pay rent to the settler group on the basis of the settlers' fraudulent claims. Mohammed al-Kurd had a heart attack on the night of the eviction and died a few days later. Fawzieh remains homeless, a refugee once again, and is living in a tent. This is Israeli justice if you are Palestinian.
The writer is coordinator of Peace Action Montgomery.