A Palestinian neighbourhood known as Sheikh Jarrah is located in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian families were ordered to leave their homes in May in the neighbourhood by Israel to make way for Jewish settlers.
Clashes over possible Sheikh Jarrah evictions spread to Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound, sparking an Israeli crackdown that intensified an 11-day war in the Gaza strip between Palestinians and Israeli militants.
On Monday, the High Court has told four Sheikh Jarrah families of Justice to be encouraged to compromise a deal. Eviction orders would be nullified, and that the families may remain in their homes in East Jerusalem. However, Palestinians were not pleased. They were informed that they had to face a condition; to acknowledge the property belongs to a Jewish settlement company.
However, no conclusion or compromise has been reached throughout the three-hour debate. An offer was made to the Sheikh Jarrah families. They would remain in their properties as “protected tenants” in exchange for annual payments of NIS 1,500. The families refused the agreement.
Sami Ersheid is an attorney who represents the four families. He said that his clients feared that their ownership of the property would have to be given up by them by approving the agreement.
Muhammad Al Kurd, one of four Palestinian families, has said, “They have placed a lot of pressure on us to reach an agreement with Israeli settlers in which we would be renting from the settler organisations. Of course, this is rejected.”
The case has gained international attention involving the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States.
Ersheid and his co-counsel Hussni Abu Hussein provided the court with new documents showing that the Jordanians have taken preliminary steps to register the property. However, the process was not completed before the Six-Day War when East Jerusalem passed from Jordanian to Israeli control.
In 1970, a law was enacted by Israel under which Jews would regain land in East Jerusalem in 1948. However, Palestinians were already living on it by then.
Arieh King, deputy mayor of Jerusalem who also supports the Jewish Israeli claims in the neighbourhood, said, “As long as the court drags this on, there are more rooms for Arabs to make riots”. He also mentioned that the court should rule the land is Jewish “and end of story”.
During the debate, judges paused for 20 minutes to allow Ersheid and Hussein to speak to each other and discuss with their clients. Some 20 families surrounded both men. They used the time to explain what was going on in Arabic, as no translation of the proceedings was given.
Supporters and opponents of the families were waiting outside the courtroom in the hallway. They were prevented from entering due to lack of space. A small protest was held outside in which others were holding signs that said: “Sheikh Jarrah is Palestine”.