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Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Israel's evictions upset even its friends

Broad condemnation of the eviction of Palestinians in east Jerusalem reflects growing international anger over settlements

It isn't necessary to be unduly cynical to wonder exactly what it takes for British diplomats to be "appalled" by anything. But that was the reaction to Israel's eviction of Palestinian families from the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah – the ugly face of ethnic cleansing and the creation of new "facts on the ground" that make nonsense of hopes for any movement in the moribund peace process.

The spokesman at the British consulate who went public with that undiplomatic A-word added bluntly: "These actions are incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace. We urge Israel not to allow the extremists to set the agenda."

The UN, not normally given to extravagant displays of anger either, was only a tad less outspoken. Robert Serry, its representative, deplored "provocative" and "totally unacceptable actions by Israel", lambasting it for contravening the Geneva Conventions, ignoring the demands of the Quartet, heightening tensions and undermining "international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace". From Washington the state department more or less agreed – also calling the action "provocative". More