Arab residents of Jerusalem neighborhood reject compromise that could prevent their evictions

“In my opinion, the decision by the Palestinian organizations is wrong and will cost the residents a heavy price,” said a source who has represented the residents of the neighborhood in the past.

By Baruch Yedid, TPS

Earlier this month, the Jerusalem court proposed a solution to the issue of Arab families who are to be evicted from homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. According to the proposal, the evictions will be canceled and the families will receive the status of a protected tenant until the completion of the process of proof of ownership of the land that will take place in the future.

It was this issue that sparked last June’s conflict in Gaza. Hamas for some reason, and at the last minute, declared itself to be the protector of the Arabs who were scheduled for eviction. Hamas gave Israel only about one hour to respond to an ultimatum that it stop the evictions and withdraw from the Arab parts of Jerusalem.

So the terror organization, which controls the Gaza Strip, fired rockets at Jerusalem on May 10, 2021, at 6:03 pm, thus sparking Israel’s operation Guardians of the Wall.

Now, the lawyer who represents the families, Sami Rashid, said that they are studying the proposal and are required to respond to it by November 2.

Rashid stated that the court’s proposal does not include any Palestinian recognition of the ownership by Israel’s “Nahalat Shimon” association over the houses and properties and that the issue of ownership will remain open until a future settlement

A source in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood told TPS, however, that according to the court’s proposal, Nahalat Shimon will remain the owner of the land until the new settlement.

The Arab residents of the homes in dispute in Sheikh Jarrah have believed for several years now that any settlement that can be reached with the Nahalat Shimon that would let them stay in their homes should be made. This is even if the settlement recognizes Nahalat Shimon’s ownership of the properties.

Palestinian Authority officials, however, oppose any such recognition as it would be an acknowledgment of a Jewish right to the land.

On Wednesday, residents of the neighborhood spoke with Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the Hamas political bureau. The residents stressed to him that they will reject any proposal from the court that would evict them from their homes and praised Hamas for its support of their cause in Operation Jerusalem Sword, what Hamas called Operation Guardians of the Wall.

A media outlet affiliated with Hamas reported that Haniyeh telephoned the residents there and told them, “You are not alone in the campaign, and the people, the nation and the resistance are all on your side. I am confident our people will respond to your call as they did in the past.”

Haniyeh added, “The resistance will not allow the courts of the occupation to fraudulently achieve what the occupation failed to achieve in the war [Guardians of the Wall].”

The national and Islamic forces in eastern Jerusalem also reject the court’s proposal, saying that it is a “fraudulent exercise designed to rescue Israel from the international protest on this issue.”

Social activists in eastern Jerusalem called on the families to study the compromise proposal, noting that the announcement made by the “forces” was incorrect. They pointed to the contradiction between what attorney Rashid said and the content of the “forces” declaration.

A source in the east of the city, who for years has opposed the PA’s involvement in the matter, told TPS Thursday morning that the court’s decision does not require recognition by the residents of the neighborhood of ownership of the land by the Nahalat Shimon association.

The source, who has represented the residents of the neighborhood in the past, told TPS, “In my opinion, the decision by the Palestinian organizations is wrong and will cost the residents a heavy price.”

“They should have gotten better terms from the compromise proposed by the court, and not have locked the door and declared war,” he added.