WRITE SECRETARY CLINTON TODAY
Early on Sunday, August 2, after a long legal battle, Israeli security forces evicted two Palestinian extended families from their homes in East Jerusalem. Almost immediately Israeli settlers moved in. This action is all part of the continuing debate over the growth of Israeli settlements, furthering a plan for Jewish settlement in predominantly Arab areas. It undermines the efforts of President Obama and Secretary Clinton to create an environment for negotiating a comprehensive peace agreement and is therefore harmful to both Palestinian and Israeli hopes for peace.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to Secretary of State Clinton asking that she demand the reversal of this action (Read the full text of the Presiding Bishop's letter here). In her letter the Presiding Bishop expresses her appreciation for Secretary Clinton's statement that these evictions are "deeply regrettable" and that "the eviction of families and demolition of homes in East Jerusalem is not in keeping with Israeli obligations" and that such action will not be "recognized as changing the status quo."
The Presiding Bishop's letter also emphasizes The Episcopal Church's continued firm commitment to policies that embrace Palestinian aspirations for a viable sovereign state with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both Israel and Palestine, end the Israeli occupation while guaranteeing Israel's security and recognition of its right to exist.
These positions, based on resolutions of General Convention and Executive Council, also stand in opposition to the settlements built on Palestinian land, the building of the 'separation barrier' or wall where it violates Palestinian territory, and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Previous resolutions also call for an end to violence by all sides and a firm renunciation of anti-Semitism.
The houses in question were built in the 1950s during the period of Jordanian administration of East Jerusalem. They are located in the sensitive Sheikh Jarrah section which is close to the 1949 Armistice Line or Green Line. While the legal issues in the case are disputed, it is clear that carrying out this eviction order is provocative. A home eviction order at this time and in this place is not a mere matter of local law enforcement, but raises significant international political issues. It undermines the efforts of President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Special Envoy George Mitchell to create an environment for starting talks for a comprehensive peace agreement and is therefore harmful to both the Palestinian and Israeli hopes for peace.
The US Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a protest on Sunday. Robert H. Serry, the United Nations special Middle East coordinator, who visited one of the homes in the spring, said in a statement that he deplored the evictions, which he described as "totally unacceptable actions by Israel." The British Consulate, in Sheikh Jarrah, said in a statement that its officials were "appalled" by the evictions.