Israeli gov’t not evicting Arab squatters from Jerusalem neighborhood: Report

Situation in Sheikh Jarrah is too politically sensitive, says source close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

By World Israel News Staff

The Israeli government does not intend to evict Arab squatters from Jewish-owned land in Sheikh Jarrah because of how politically sensitive the issue has become, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

The High Court of Justice is due to hear an appeal on Monday filed by four Palestinian families living on the disputed eastern Jerusalem property. Lower courts have already ruled that the property belongs to the Nahalat Shimon Company, but the government of Benjamin Netanyahu balked at enforcing the ruling.

A source close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the Post ahead of the hearing that even if the High Court allows the state to evict the Palestinians, the government won’t do so, preferring to lower tensions. The source explained that the government doesn’t expect the High Court justices to impose a deadline for the eviction.

The legal battle over the Sheikh Jarrah property goes back decades. Jewish ownership dates back to the Ottoman period. The four Palestinian families living there fled to Sheikh Jarrah from other parts of Israel during the 1948 War of Independence when eastern Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan.

The Biden administration opposes the eviction.

The Post‘s source added that the government doesn’t compare Sheikh Jarrah to the illegally built Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar. That village, located east of Maale Adumim, was built on state-owned land in Area C of Judea and Samaria, where Israel has security and administrative control.

Unlike Khan al-Ahmar, the government is not a party to the legal conflict over Sheikh Jarrah.

Court rulings have cleared the way for the state to evacuate and demolish Khan al-Ahmar, but the Netanyahu government officials confirmed that this never happened for political reasons. The new government has asked for a delay to study the issue more closely before formulating a position.