Friday, November 12, 2010

Milne: The Palestinians of Israel are poised to take centre stage


With the peace process going nowhere, common experience on both sides of the Green Line is creating a new reality
  • Seumas Milne
  • In a quiet street in the Sheikh Jarrah district of occupied East Jerusalem 88-year-old Rifka al-Kurd is explaining how she came to live in the house she and her husband built as Palestinian refugees in the 1950s. As she speaks, three young ultra-orthodox Jewish settlers swagger in to stake their claim to the front part of the building, shouting abuse in Hebrew and broken Arabic: “Arab animals”, “shut up, whore”. There is a brief physical confrontation with Rifka’s daughter as the settlers barricade themselves in to the rooms they have occupied since last winter. That was when they finally won a court order to take over the Kurd family’s extension on the grounds that it was built without permission – which Palestinians in Jerusalem are almost never granted. It is an ugly scene, the settlers’ chilling arrogance underpinned by the certain knowledge that they can call in the police and army at will. But such takeovers of Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah have become commonplace, and the focus of continual protest. The same is true in nearby Silwan, home to upwards of 30,000 Palestinians next to the Old City, where 88 homes to 1,500 Palestinians have been lined up for demolition to make way for a King David theme park and hundreds of settlers are protected round the clock by trigger-happy security guards. Continues >>
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