EU parliamentarian: We'll use our voices to stop Palestinian evictions

European Parliament member Iratxe García spoke up after visiting the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and South Hebron Hills Firing Zone 918 where Palestinians face eviction.

 A Palestinian drives a tractor, after Israel's Supreme Court rejected a petition against the eviction of more than 1,000 Palestinian inhabitants of a rural part, in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, in the West Bank, May 5, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)
A Palestinian drives a tractor, after Israel's Supreme Court rejected a petition against the eviction of more than 1,000 Palestinian inhabitants of a rural part, in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, in the West Bank, May 5, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)

The European Parliament must take a more active role to prevent Israel from evicting Palestinian families  from their homes in east Jerusalem, according to MEP Iratxe García, who chairs the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Party (S&D) in the parliament.

There are “Palestinian families who are suffering eviction and who are suffering this type of horrible circumstances by Israel,” García said Thursday after visiting with the Salem family who lives on the edge of Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Getting your facts on the ground

She headed a four-member parliamentary delegation that visited Israel and the Palestinian territories this week. The group held meetings with the heads of the Labor and Meretz parties as well as with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh.

Parliamentarians visited Palestinian families who face eviction from Firing Zone 918 in the South Hebron Hills after the High Court of Justice ruled that they were there illegally and could be removed.

 Family and friends carry the coffin of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during an Israeli raid in Jenin in Jenin, May 13, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD) Family and friends carry the coffin of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during an Israeli raid in Jenin in Jenin, May 13, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

They also sat with the Salem family, who are among scores of east Jerusalem Palestinian families in a protracted legal battle over the status of their homes. Opponents of the families have argued that the issue is a real estate conflict. Supporters have charged that their pending eviction stems from a desire to reduce the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem in favor of a Jewish one.

“We spoke with them,” Garcia said of her visit with the Salem family. “We gave them the message that we will use our voices to speak about it in the EU: to ask for justice and to ask for international law, and to try to prevent and stop this eviction.”

"We gave them the message that we will use our voices to speak about it in the EU, to  ask for justice and to ask for international law, and to try and prevent and stop this eviction."

MEP Iratxe García, chair of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
 European Parliament member Iratxe García, who chairs the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats party (S&D). (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF) European Parliament member Iratxe García, who chairs the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats party (S&D). (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

Garcia stressed that “we want Israel and Palestinians [to live] in peace and to open the dialogue and to try and live together with our differences.

This is totally important for us,” she said.

“We can mobilize our voices in order to put on the public agenda what is happening in this moment here; there are other conflicts in the world. We cannot forget the I and it’s important to find a solution.”

Shireen Abu Akleh 

In Ramallah on Monday, she met with the brother of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed while on assignment in Jenin.

Palestinians have charged that she was fatally shot by the IDF but have not released the bullet that killed her to Israel, so it can attempt to see if it can be matched to an IDF gun.

“I told the brother of Shireen Abu Akleh that we will continue to call for an international independent investigation into the killing. The EU can help with forensic experts that can join an international panel,” Garcia said.

She also expressed her support for the parliament’s decisions this week not to withhold funds for the PA in light of antisemitic incitement in its textbooks.

“What we see on the ground is a deterioration of everyday life for the Palestinians,” the S&D chairwoman said. “That is why I welcomed the European Commission’s solution to unblock EU funds for basic services provided by the PA.”