Supreme Court Hearing on Sheikh Jarrah Families Concludes without a Ruling

2 August 2021
Today, the Supreme Court convened a hearing on a leave to appeal request submitted by the Al-Kurd, Jaouni, Abu Hasna, and Askafi families who are facing eviction from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah by the Nahalat Shimon settler company. The hearing took place before a panel of three judges - Yitzhak Amit, Noam Sohlberg and Daphne Barak-Erez. As a compromise, the justices proposed a settlement whereby the families would be afforded protected tenancy status on the condition that they would recognize Nahalat Shimon's ownership over the land and pay a small rental fee to the settler group. The families rejected the proposition, objecting to Nahalat Shimon's claims of ownership.

Both sides subsequently presented arguments, and the hearing concluded without the handing down of a court ruling. The justices are expected to issue a decision within the coming days concerning the continuation of proceedings. According to one of attorneys representing the families, an additional hearing on the matter will likely be scheduled.  

Originally slated for early May, the hearing was deferred until now to allow for the Attorney General to weigh his intervention in the case, which he ultimately declined.

The court's decision in this case will likely impact the additional families from the Kerem al'Jaouni section of Sheikh Jarrah facing eviction lawsuits filed by Nahalat Shimon, including the case of the Dajani, Daoudi, and Hammad families, likewise pending at the Supreme Court. On July 28, the attorney representing the three aforementioned families submitted a request to postpone their eviction date set for August 1. In response, the Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction, provisionally freezing their eviction and asking the settler group to respond by August 8. While the three families have likewise filed a leave to appeal request to the Supreme Court, neither a hearing has been scheduled, nor a decision rendered.      

Currently, there are open eviction lawsuits against a total of approximately 50-60 families in Sheikh Jarrah (30 families - Kerem al'Jaouni section and 20-30 families - Um Haroun section), which are at various stages of legal proceedings. Many more families are at risk of receiving eviction demands due to land registration procedures the Israeli authorities underhandedly began in East Jerusalem in 2020 for the first time since 1967. Without the public's knowledge, the authorities have been discreetly registering land rights of properties in Um Haroun to alleged Jewish owners. Such a move is unprecedented and has potential acute ramifications on Palestinian properties not only in Sheikh Jarrah, but across East Jerusalemwhich could ultimately lead to widespread Palestinian dispossession in the city and expansion of Jewish settlement.
Batan al-Hawa, Silwan
On the opposite side of the Old City Basin where similar eviction threats loom over Batan al-Hawa, Silwan, the Attorney General was given an extension until August 29 to submit his legal opinion in the case of five families (Duweik family) at the Supreme Court level. Now, the cases of a total of 19 households, pending at both the Supreme and District Courts, hinge on the legal opinion of the Attorney General and carry implications for the other families facing open eviction lawsuits in Batan al-Hawa. A total of 85 Palestinian families, numbering 700 individuals, are at risk of large-scale displacement from one community by the Ateret Cohanim settler organization via its co-optation of the Benvenisti Trust – a Jewish trust which once held title to land in the area in the late 19th century.

Infringement of Palestinian Rights to their Homes and City
Together in Sheikh Jarrah and Batan al-Hawa, nearly 150 Palestinian families - totaling over 1000 people - are under threat of mass displacement due to discriminatory laws and state collusion with settler groups. These inequitable legal mechanisms afford Jews with the right to reclaim assets in East Jerusalem lost in 1948 now inhabited by Palestinians, while denying Palestinians the same right to recover lost properties on the Israeli side of the Green Line. Many of the families facing eviction are Palestinian refugees who lost homes in Israel in 1948 and now stand to be displaced for a second time by settlers who have no connection to the original Jewish owners or occupants of the properties.  

Although successive Israeli governments have framed these cases as standard property disputes, they are rather part and parcel of a coordinated and systematic campaign aimed at uprooting Palestinian families and supplanting them with settlers to create Israeli enclaves in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods.

This not only severely violates the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem, but also contravenes International Law and erodes conditions for an agreed resolution based on a two-state framework with two capitals in Jerusalem.

Concerted pressure must be exerted on the Israeli government to end these measures of dispossession and to undertake a sustainable solution which will safeguard the families' rights to their homes and communities.