Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

Demolition of Palestinian homes a new low for Israel

The silence of the international community highlights the trials of an oppressed people

Israeli authorities demolish a Palestinian building in the the Palestinian village of Sur Baher in East Jerusalem. AFP
Israeli authorities demolish a Palestinian building in the the Palestinian village of Sur Baher in East Jerusalem. AFP

The sight of Israeli troops demolishing legally built Palestinian homes has been met by the international community not with the universal condemnation it deserves, but with a collective indifference that verges on complicity. The destruction of Palestinian houses is nothing new, but this is the first time that this weapon of oppression has been wielded in an area ceded to Palestinian control under the Oslo Accords. As such, it represents a new low in Israel’s efforts to drive Palestinian people from their homeland and erase their culture from the map.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the Arab League have condemned the ongoing demolitions, but the response of the international community has been muted at best. Saeed Abu Ali, the league’s assistant secretary-general for Palestine affairs, has called upon the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court to intervene and hold Israel accountable on charges of ethnic cleansing. His words have been in vain.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has merely expressed its “sadness”. The nations of the European Union say that they “expect the Israeli authorities to immediately halt the ongoing demolitions”, but propose no mechanism by which they might be persuaded to do so. From America comes a telling silence. Israel’s disregard for international law is solidly buttressed by the Trump administration, which has in recent months closed the Palestine Liberation Organisation office in Washington, moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognised Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Britain too has remained mute. Long ago, it betrayed the promise to the Arabs contained in the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way to the Jewish state on the understanding that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. The plight of the Palestinians is a stain on the conscience of the international community, but the guilt belongs to Israel. Its systematic oppression of the Palestinian people is contrary to both international law and the principles of human decency.

This article was amended on July 24 to reflect current events

Updated: July 24, 2019 01:03 PM

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