Supreme Court Suspends Palestinian Evictions in Sheikh Jarrah

After years of protests and demonstrations, Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that a group of Palestinian families slated for eviction from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah can remain in their homes for the time being. The court ruled on Tuesday that the four families could stay in their homes until Israel carried out a land arrangement, a process that could take years or may not be carried out at all.

Joint List lawmakers met Sheikh Jarrah Palestinian residents last week (Photo: Zo Haderech)

The ruling is a culmination of a decades-long struggle for Palestinian residents to stay in their homes. Sami Irshid, a lawyer representing the Palestinian families, told WAFA the decision was “significant.” “The decision of the Supreme Court cancels the eviction while the issue of ownership is decided,” he said. “The court decides that the past decisions regarding ownership do not apply, and the residents of Sheikh Jarrah can argue their ownership and prove their ownership,” he added.

The new ruling leaves the final status of the property open to a decision by an office within Israel’s Ministry of Justice, said Gaal Yanovski, advocacy coordinator at Ir Amim, a Jerusalem group opposed to settlements. According to Ir Amim nonprofit, some 300 Palestinians are currently under threat of eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, mostly in private cases filed by settlers and right-wing Jewish groups. The case involving these four families could set a precedent for other proceedings making their way through the courts, experts say.

The evictions in Sheikh Jarrah have become a global symbol of the Palestinian cause, sparking raised tensions in Jerusalem that helped touch off the May war between Israel and the Hamas terror group. Israeli officials have warned that the tense situation in the neighborhood could lead to another escalation between Israel and the Palestinians.

Peace Now said in a statement recently: “This is a terrible injustice based on the cynical exploitation of a discriminatory law that allows Jews to exercise the ‘right of return’ to property lost to them in 1948, at the expense of Palestinian families legally living in the property, while another Israeli law denies the same right to Palestinians. The State of Israel, which took the Palestinian refugees’ properties lost to them in 1948, cannot today allow settlers to take from Palestinians Jewish properties lost in 1948 and on which they are have already received compensation. The government can stop this evacuation, and it must do so.” A mass demonstration against occupation will be held in Sheikh Jarrah next Friday, March 4. The Communist Party of Israel and Hadash have expressed their support for this protest and have called for the public to participate in the demonstration.