Former US president addresses demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah, says destroying houses and evicting families unjust, not conducive to peace.
By MELANIE LIDMAN
Former US president Jimmy Carter visited Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem on Friday afternoon, briefly joining a weekly protest outside the houses of three Arab families evicted in 2009 and telling some 300 demonstrators that the evictions had not been “fair or just or peaceful.”“On behalf of The Elders, we have come here to give thanks and congratulations to those Israelis and Palestinians and Christians, all of whom are trying to resolve this injustice peacefully and with demonstrations of commitment to justice and to equality and to fair treatment,” Carter told the crowd.RELATED:Robinson, Carter encourage non-violent HamasSheikh Jarrah Palestinians fear new evictionsCarter was joined by former Irish president Mary Robinson and Indian women’s’ rights activist Ela Bhatt. They are all members of The Elders, a group of world leaders who lend their “influence and experience” to conflict areas around the world, and were in Israel for three days as part of a region-wide tour that included Gaza, Jordan, Egypt and Syria.Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement volunteer Avner Inbar said Carter’s visit had been “a tremendous boost to the struggle against discrimination and dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah and in other places in east Jerusalem.”Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement has organized weekly protests in Sheikh Jarrah since November 2009, to protest the eviction of three families whose homes are now inhabited by Jewish families.The conflict in Sheikh Jarrah centers around families who were resettled by UNRWA in Sheikh Jarrah in 1956 as part of a joint effort by the UN and Jordan to find homes for Arab residents who fled west Jerusalem in 1948.In a separate incident, Carter’s convoy was briefly interrupted late on Thursday night near the American Colony Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah.An Arab east Jerusalem resident driving a private car was able to infiltrate his convoy of security vehicles. The convoy was stopped and security guards emerged from vehicles with their weapons raised. Police who were securing the area took the driver for questioning, and the convoy continued without incident.During The Elders’ visit to Jerusalem, the group said it had “low expectations” of the current peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. On a tour of Silwan, Carter reiterated his belief that east Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state under Palestinian control.Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat slammed Carter’s comment.“I asked The Elders how they can celebrate the reunification of Berlin while at the same time advocate the division of Jerusalem,” Barkat said in a statement. “It is the ultimate inconsistency.”
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