Israeli settlement proposal in Sheikh Jarrah: solution or evasion?
Occupied Jerusalem: Attorneys for Sheikh Jarrah families have so far not taken a final stance on the Israeli High Court proposal to settle the case on the residents’ forced expulsion from their homes. The proposal includes consideration of the residents as protected tenants with ownership rights.
Attorney Sami Irsheid, who is part of the families’ defense team, said the Israeli court proposal involves both the residents of Sheikh Jarrah and the “Nahalat Shimon” settlement group to which the residents have until November 2nd to respond to.
According to the proposal, Irsheid explains, the eviction orders would be cancelled for the four families, who would be considered protected tenants with ownership rights to the land guaranteed if proven in future settlement procedures in the neighborhood.
Irsheid notes the High Court decision ‘does not include any acknowledgment from the Sheikh Jarrah residents of Nahalat Shimon’s ownership of their homes or land, leaving the issue of ownership open so the residents could prove ownership in future procedures.
Attorney Medhat Deeba, meanwhile commented: “No doubt the Israeli High Court verdict on the Sheikh Jarrah case, made on October 4 and which includes an important and comfortable settlement proposal for the residents, buys them some time in their homes and properties, especially given the previous permanent eviction orders against them.”
However, Deeba warned that decision was designed to take the heat off Israel in the eyes of the world. “This is a very important point. The settlement decision takes the pressure off of Israel to the world and also removes the immediate threat of eviction for the residents, at least for the next 15 years. Ultimately, however, the proposal includes the right of Nahalat Shimon to evict the residents in accordance with Article 131 (7) and (10). This could happen if the case is closed by the property being registered in the name of the settlers as owners or with the passing of 15 years from the date the settlement was signed – whichever comes first.”
He explains, “If the settlement is finalized within five years and the land is registered in the company’s name, then they could file for eviction in accordance with the aforementioned provision, and if the settlement procedures are not finalized within 15 years, the company could also file for eviction of the residents according to this article.’
“Our hearts are with the people of Sheikh Jarrah since the decision is ultimately theirs. Without a doubt, this is a tough decision; they must choose the less of the two evils.”
Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Sheikh Jarrah residents’ committee, Yaacoub Arafa said after the committee met with the legal team, “It is clear the Israeli court system is stalling and avoiding a final decision on the expulsion of Sheikh Jarrah residents. This is the reason for the momentum in the media and in international political arenas, which called on Israeli authorities to halt this war crime of trying to uproot us from our home and land. We know that justice for the rightful owners will never come from Israeli courts, which are by nature, colonialist courts established to serve settlers and to facilitate Israeli settlement measures.”
Arafa continues, “We, as the residents of Sheikh Jarrah, are studying our future steps carefully because they must help maintain our presence in Jerusalem. One thing is for sure: we will never recognize the settlers’ ownership of our homes.” He says they are still reviewing the proposal and would deliberate with their lawyers again before giving the court their final response.
Jerusalemite activist and resident of Sheikh Jarrah, whose family is also threatened with expulsion, Muna Kurd, reiterated their refusal to concede ownership of their homes or land. “Rest assured, we will never accept any settlement that involves concession of our rights to our land and homes. The court’s recent proposal to consider us protected tenants is all so they could show the world they are trying to reach a settlement that is satisfactory to all sides. But this is actually what they want. Our position will not change; we will not relinquish any of our rights.”
The settler group, Nahalat Shimon, alleges the Sheikh Jarrah homes are built on land owned by Jews prior to 1948, a claim the residents refute, confirming they have been living in their homes according to a 1956 deal between the Jordanian government and UNRWA.