A new round of clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators erupted today in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where a new group of Jewish settlers moved in overnight.
The settlers moved into two buildings they claim to have purchased last month, part of the effort by a settler group to “restore a Jewish presence” in the area. The ownership of some of the occupied buildings has been contested by Palestinian families who say they never sold.
Most of the Israeli coalition has been supportive of the move, presenting it as a simple purchase of land in the “eternal” capital of Israel. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was harshly critical of the move, however, saying he didn’t want Jerusalem to be the sort of place “where sneaking into apartments is done in the cover of night.”
Others are criticizing the settlers because their move into a handful of buildings in the predominantly Arab neighborhood is not only fueling tensions, but has the Israeli government spending large amounts of money to provide them around the clock police protection.
Lawyers for the settler group claim the buildings from today were purchased legally, and in a different transaction from the ones last month, but ownership is often hotly contested, with the Israeli courts often using varying standards to decide whether Palestinians actually own buildings in the occupied territories.