On Sunday, Israeli forces evicted Hatem Abu Asab’s family from their home in Jerusalem. This comes after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled Jewish settlers were the rightful owners. The video footage that spread on social media was stark. It showed Rania Abu Asab, who is one of the residents, saying while she cries: “They took my life. They took everything that belongs to me…The Israeli [settlers] are inside my house and I’m on the street.”
Yet that didn’t grab a deserved amount of media attention globally. Some may not see what happened to the Abu Asab family as “major” news, however, if that happened to any of us, then it would be the most significant thing in our lives. What happened to the family highlights the oppression Palestinians live under and how Israel’s government politicises the law.
“What am I going to tell you? I can’t look at the situation or remember what happened. There was an excessive force, that didn’t have mercy on anyone; women or children,” Hatem Abu Asab told me when I asked him to describe his feelings after what happened to him and his family. “They [Israeli forces] beat everyone, break the furniture and the entire home was broken before we were evicted.”
“The forces tried at the beginning to prevent the press from filming inside and the entire battle happened without filming,” he added. “Until now we haven’t found a home and we are divided from each other.”
This story of Abu Asab’s family only highlights one short episode of what the Palestinians have been living under for decades. Last week, a UN report found that nearly 200 Palestinian families in East Jerusalem are fighting eviction cases against Israeli settler organisations. This portrays an image of the unequal and unfair treatment these people face.
“Israeli law lets Jews claim property they owned before 1948, but it does not allow Arabs to claim property they owned before 1948,” Professor of Law at the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University, John Quigley, told me. “The courts of Israel are enforcing a discriminatory regime.”
Clearly, there are two sets of laws; One that applies to Jewish Israelis and another that applies to Palestinians. But still, the world is not doing anything about it. In fact, instead of condemning it, some Arab regimes have been taking a further step towards normalising their relations with Israel. Regardless of what the Palestinians are going through, we see countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain dealing openly with Israel and sharing platforms with its officials, as was evident at the Warsaw conference.
Relations between Arab regimes and Israel are not new. They have been there for a long time. For instance, just about a week ago, we learnt about the relations between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi from a documentary aired by Israel’s Channel 13. We also learnt about the visit the former head of Mossad conducted to Riyadh in 2014.
Even before this was aired, last December, we learnt that Israel’s Chief of Staff secretly visited the UAE and met Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The difference between what happened before and what is happening now is that relations are more overt today.
These series of events suggest that these regimes are not allies of the Palestinians but rather their enemies. This is because, without the help of those regimes, Israel would have found it difficult to go ahead with what it is doing. Silence from these regimes is what is giving the Israeli government the green light to do whatever it wants. If Israel’s violations of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the evictions of families and the situation in Gaza do not stop them from trying to maintain positive relations with Israel, what will?
These same regimes appear in favour of the US peace plan for the Middle East, which many others have already criticised. History will never look kindly on regimes who are showing support for a plan created by a dishonest broker.
What the Abu Asab family has experienced will remain a blight on all these regimes who have turned their back on the Palestinian for their own personal gains. There will be a day when these despotic regimes, who have monopolised power and occupied their countries’ institutions, pay a heavy price for their actions.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.