US insists Israel let Arabs squat in Jerusalem

Wednesday, August 05, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

The Obama Administration on Tuesday officially registered its displeasure with Israel over the eviction of two Arab families who were illegally squatting in a Jewish-owned building on the eastern side of Jerusalem.

The rebuke was delivered to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters she viewed the eviction as "deeply regrettable" and "provocative."

Clinton claimed that by enforcing property rights in Jerusalem, Israel was violating its peace obligations. Many Israelis now see the Obama Administration as fully siding with the Arabs in their demand that the entire eastern half of Jerusalem must be surrendered to Palestinian control.

The building in question was originally owned by the Sephardic Jewish community in Jerusalem dating back to the 19th century. The property was abandoned when local Arabs increased the frequency of their attacks on Jews in the run-up to Israel's reestablishment in the 1920s and 1930s. When Jordan illegally occupied the eastern half of Jerusalem in 1948, it took control of the building and allowed Arab families to move in.

The Arab families were able to stay in the building after Israel reunited Jerusalem under its control in 1967 since no one connected to the original owners came forward. But a few years ago, representatives of the original Jewish owners began petitioning Israeli courts to have the Arab squatters thrown out.

This week, the court finally ruled in favor of the Jewish owners, acknowledging their proof of ownership, and ordered police to remove the squatters.

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