Israel’s Supreme Court is due to rule on whether or not to deport Palestinian families from East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood at final hearing in controversial case that helped spark community violence in Israel and another war with Hamas earlier this year.
A verdict in the highly controversial case, which could lead to the forcible displacement of current residents of the neighborhood to make way for Jewish settlers in a decades-old conflict, is expected Monday morning.
The decision was delayed in May, when the state attorney general asked for more time at the last minute to study the case. But by then, anger over the planned evictions had led to some of the worst unrest in Jerusalem in years, in which hundreds of Palestinians were injured in clashes with police.
Sheikh Jarrah’s protests coincided with the decision to ban traditional Ramadan gatherings at Jerusalem holy sites, marches and riots by far-right Jewish groups, in violence that escalated into an 11-day confrontation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which killed 254 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel.
The Times of Israel reported that the Israeli government is seeking to postpone the hearing for another six months in order to dispel tensions and appease the administration of Joe Biden, which opposes the evictions. The new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, is expected to make his first state visit to Washington DC later in August.
Several Israeli media have also reported that if the court refuses to hear the Palestinians’ appeal, it is unlikely to order the state to proceed with the deportations or set a deadline, and that Bennett’s government could. avoid the conflict by citing a lawyer from 1991 general ruling that the police can refuse to carry out evictions if there was a danger in doing so.
Nevertheless, the case is watched nervously by the communities of the city still reeling from the violence of the beginning of the year. Since the clashes in May, Sheikh Jarrah has been subjected to a police blockade, which residents say amounts to a siege.
“It’s a constant nightmare for Sheikh Jarrah’s families: they have inherited these issues from their fathers and grandfathers,” said Sami Ershid, a lawyer who has represented affected Palestinians for the past 15 years.
“From the start, they are seen as second-class citizens in a system of global discrimination. The first step towards justice is to reopen the property issue and we are hopeful that the court will give us a space to discuss all of these difficult issues. “
Sheikh Jarrah, named after a doctor who treated Saladin, the Muslim leader who drove the crusaders from Jerusalem in the 12th century, is a wealthy neighborhood in East Jerusalem 500 meters (550 yards) north of the Damascus Gate . Israel seized the Old City, along with East Jerusalem and the West Bank, in 1967.
The area is mostly home to Palestinians, but Israeli settlers have moved into some of its properties, claiming they were owned by Jews before the 1948 war.
In a move criticized by rights groups as “a cynical attempt to evade responsibility,” Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said in June he would not intervene in Sheikh’s issue Jarrah. Israeli media reported that his office came to the conclusion that there was no legal way to prevent the evictions.
Ershid and his partner have submitted a new legal opinion which suggests that the current residents of Sheikh Jarrah have full ownership rights to their homes because the Jordanian government granted the property and started registering the properties before the process was completed. interrupted during the 1967 war.
Lower courts, however, upheld claims that the properties belong to Israeli company Nahalat Shimon.