JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a group of families set to be evicted from a burning neighborhood in East Jerusalem can stay at home for the time being.
The decision could help ease tensions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, which helped spark the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last year.
The court ruled the families could stay in their homes until Israel completes a land settlement, a process that could take years or not happen at all, according to Ir Amim, an advocacy group that does not was not involved in the case. trial.
READ MORE: Palestinians fear loss of family homes as evictions loom
For now, the four families residing in the units will be recognized as protected tenants. Each will deposit largely nominal rent amounting to $62 per month to a trust, until ownership of the property is settled.
Sami Arsheid, a lawyer representing the families’ case in court, said the ruling was “something huge” that ran counter to the 63 previous rulings by Israeli courts on the issue of Palestinian properties in Sheikh Jarrah.
He said the court agreed that there was a strong claim of Palestinian ownership of the property and that his clients “felt some relief that they were not being evicted from their homes”.
Dozens of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem are at risk of eviction by Jewish settler organizations, and thousands are threatened with demolition due to discriminatory policies that make it extremely difficult for Palestinians to build new homes or expand existing ones. that already exist.
The properties in question were built on land that belonged to a Jewish community trust before the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel, according to court documents. After the war, when East Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan, Palestinian refugee families were settled in houses on the property. Israel took control of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and since 1972 settler groups have attempted to claim ownership and evict Palestinian residents.
Israeli law allows Jews to recover property lost in the 1948 war, but does not grant Palestinians the right to recover property they lost in the same war, even if they still reside in controlled areas by Israel.
Other eviction threats in Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods, tied to decades-old legal battles between Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers, sparked protests and clashes last year that ultimately helped spark the war in Gaza.
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The neighborhood is frequently the scene of violent clashes between Palestinian protesters, hard-line Israeli nationalists and the Israeli police.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank, in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed it in a move unrecognized by most of the international community. Israel considers the entire city its capital, and the municipality says it is working to improve services for all residents.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state, and the fate of the city is one of the most contentious issues in the century-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Also on Tuesday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said a 21-year-old Palestinian man was killed by Israeli troops near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The circumstances of the incident were unclear.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to requests for comment.