JERUSALEM – In a nearly unprecedented move, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party this week worked in an official capacity to block an attempt by Jews to move into a home in Jerusalem.
The incident took place just days after the U.S. protested a legal Jewish construction project in Jerusalem and Fatah showed a newfound boldness to solidify an Arab hold of the city. The Palestinians claim eastern sections of Jerusalem as their future capital.
“We are permitted to resist any existing illegal settlement activity whether it’s in Jerusalem or anywhere else,” Dmitri Ziliani, a spokesman for the Jerusalem section of Fatah, told WND.
According to Israeli law, however, the PA cannot officially act in Jerusalem, although Israeli police this week did not arrest the Fatah activists.
On Tuesday, Ziliani and about a dozen Fatah activists, including PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Hatem Abdul Qader, holed themselves up inside a home in the Sheik Jarra neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem to block an attempt by Jews to move into the house.
The home was originally Jewish, but its occupants were chased out during countrywide anti-Jewish Arab riots in 1929. Arabs then squatted on the property, with one family, the Hejazi family, becoming the de facto occupants until recently.
Jewish groups say they legally purchased the property from the Hejazi family but that following Fatah pressure the family denied selling it back to the Jews despite documentation and even video evidence showing the sale went through.
Fatah the past few months has executed four Arabs for selling land to Jews.
The case is being disputed by the Arab family in an appeals court, although one court, whose ruling is legally binding, ruled in favor of the Jews. Those Jews showed up at the property Tuesday, backed up by Israeli police, only to find the Fatah activists inside.
Ziliani told WND it was not the first time Fatah acted in Jerusalem the past few weeks to thwart Jews from moving into homes in the city.
“There has been more than one house in the past four to five weeks where groups of settlers tried to break in to the house and form a new reality on the ground. We resisted and will continue to act,” Ziliani said.
Fatah is not the only agency actively working to thwart Jewish residency in eastern sections of Jerusalem.
The State Department last weekend summoned Israel’s ambassador to Washington to demand a Jewish construction project in eastern Jerusalem be immediately halted, it has been confirmed.
The Obama administration has called for a halt to Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank in line with Palestinian claims on eastern Jerusalem as a future capital, even though the city was never a part of any Palestinian entity.
The construction project at the center of attention, financed by Miami Beach philanthropist Irving Moskowitz, is located just meters from Israel’s national police headquarters and other government ministries. It is a few blocks from the country’s prestigious Hebrew University, underscoring the centrality of the Jewish real estate being condemned by the U.S.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly rejected the State Department demand, telling a cabinet meeting Sunday that Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem was not a matter up for discussion.
“Imagine what would happen if someone were to suggest Jews could not live in or purchase [property] in certain neighborhoods in London, New York, Paris or Rome,” he said.
“The international community would certainly raise protest. Likewise, we cannot accept such a ruling on East Jerusalem,” Netanyahu told ministers.
Historically, there was never any separation between eastern and western Jerusalem. The terminology came after Jordan occupied the eastern section of the city, including the Temple Mount, from 1947 until it used the territory to attack the Jewish state in 1967. Israel reunited Jerusalem when it won the 1967 Six Day War.
While the U.S. strongly protests any Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem, it has been actively aiding Palestinians building illegally on Jewish-owned land in eastern sections of the city, WND has exposed.