In response to 71 British MPs protesting to the Israeli government over the Jewish National Fund’s efforts to expel the Sumarin family from their home in East Jerusalem, the Israeli embassy in London has claimed that the decision on this is not in the hands of its government, stating “ The Government of Israel is not a party to the ongoing legal proceedings involving the Sumarin family.” This is a disingenuous attempt to deflect responsibility.
The JNF’s move to confiscate the Sumarin family’s home is a direct consequence of Israel’s 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem and its subsequent support for Jewish settlement there. Both are in contravention of international law concerning Occupying Powers and have been condemned by the international community, including the British government.
In 1989, KKL-JNF initiated a move whereby the Custodian for Absentee Property declared the Sumarin home to be absentee property, behind the family’s back and without its knowledge. Following this, the property was transferred to KKL-JNF along with a host of other properties in Silwan declared absentee in a similar manner, now facing the same fate as the Sumarins.
The Sumarins’ threatened eviction is just one strand of a policy to reduce East Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, Judaizing the city. This policy sits alongside other displacements and the seemingly unstoppable rise of illegal West Bank settlements, forcing out Palestinians to make way for Jewish settlers.
None of this will proceed without the Israeli government’s explicit authorization; the state of Israel must be held responsible for the policy and the practice of ethnic cleansing its entirety – so too must its agents, like the JNF.