Israeli court says Sheikh Jarrah residents must ‘reach agreement’ with the settlers trying to evict them

Dozens of Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, who were set to be forcibly removed from their homes on Sunday, May 2, were given four more days by the Israeli Supreme Court to “reach an agreement” with the Israeli settlers that are attempting to take over their homes.

In a hearing on Sunday regarding an appeal put forward by the families of Sheikh Jarrah against their eviction, a supreme court judge decided to postpone the court’s ruling on the appeal until Thursday, May 6th.

In the meantime, the court ordered the six families, numbering around 27 people, to instead “come to an agreement” with the very settlers who have been attempting to forcibly evict them from their homes for decades now.

In a statement, the families of Sheikh Jarrah said that the judge “ordered that ‘both sides’ should reach some ‘deal’ whereby the Sheikh Jarrah families admit the settler organization’s ownership of the land and pay rent to the settler organizations.”

The families said they “firmly reject” the terms of such an agreement, “for these are our homes and the settlers are not our landlords.”

“The inherently unjust system of Israel’s colonial courts is not considering questioning the illegal settler’s ownership and has already decided on the families’ dispossession,” the statement said, adding that the court was drawing out the legal process in order to “dull popular resistance and public opinion protesting these expansionist and colonial efforts.”

“As the threat of expulsion from our home remains imminent as ever, we will continue our international campaign to stop this ethnic cleansing,” the families said.

Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, who attended the hearing, said on Twitter that what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah was “not a real estate matter but a political one to Judaize Sheikh Jarrah and East Jerusalem.”

“In Israel, there are two legal systems, one for Jews… and one for Palestinians,” Tibi said.

The Palestinian families of Sheikh Jarrah have been embattled in a legal dispute with Israeli settlers for decades, after settler organizations staked claim to their homes using a number of Israeli laws that allow Jews to claim ownership of Palestinian property that was once inhabited by Jews, prior to 1948.

Though the families, who were settled as refugees in the neighborhood as part of a housing project established by UNRWA and the Jordanian government in 1956, dispute the validity of the settler’s claims to their homes, the Israeli courts have consistently ruled in favor of the settlers.

Since the 1990’s, right-wing settler organization Nahalat Shimon International has vigorously fought for the eviction of Sheikh Jarrah’s Palestinian residents, and the subsequent replacement of them with groups of Israeli settlers.

So far, the group has been successful in every one of their endeavors in the neighborhood, and with the backing of the Israeli district court and full support of the Israeli authorities, have displaced more than 67 Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, and continue to seek the imminent displacement of around 87 more.

In addition to the six families under threat of immediate expulsion, an Israeli district court also ruled earlier this year that seven other families in the neighborhood should leave their homes by August 1st.

In total, 58 people, including 17 children, are set to be forcibly displaced from Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Jewish settlers this year alone.

The Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah have been stepping up their campaign to save their families from eviction in recent weeks, with a social media campaign to #SaveSheikhJarrah, and daily sit-ins and demonstrations in the neighborhood.

Over the weekend, several demonstrations were held in Jerusalem and across the West Bank in solidarity with the families.

Videos of Israeli police suppressing peaceful demonstrations and confiscating Palestinian flags went viral over the weekend, along with the video of an Israeli settler as he was trespassing on the property of a Palestinian family in the neighborhood.

The video of the exchange between the settler and the Palestinian home owner caused outrage on social media, as the settler could be seen telling the Palestinian home owners “if i don’t steal it someone else is going to steal it.”

On Sunday night, Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah staged a sit-in and outdoor iftar to break their fasts together as a show of their continued presence in the neighborhood. Their presence, which was completely peaceful, was quickly suppressed by armed Israeli forces who broke up the gathering and fired sound bombs at the groups of Palestinians.


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