Families reject proposal granting them ‘protected’ status.
Israel’s Supreme Court has floated compromises that would block the evictions of dozens of Palestinians in the east Jerusalem town of Sheikh Jarrah, where attempts by Jewish settlers to expel them from their homes sparked an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants in May.
The cases examined on Monday involve four Palestinian families, numbering a total of about 70 people.
The settlers have been waging a decades-long campaign to evict the families from densely populated Palestinian neighbourhoods just outside the walls of the Old City, in one of the most sensitive parts of east Jerusalem.
The settlers say the homes are built on land that was owned by Jews prior to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim such property, a right denied to Palestinians who lost lands and homes in the same conflict. The Palestinians say they have owned the properties for decades.
During Monday’s hearing, the Supreme Court proposed a pair of compromises, according to Ir Amim, a Jerusalem human rights group that supports the Palestinians and which sat in on the hearing.
It said the first proposal offered the residents “protected” status, meaning they would be protected from eviction for years in exchange for recognising the settlers’ ownership over the land. This offer would allow the four families the right to pass down their properties for two generations.
But after the four families rejected the proposition, the court proposed an alternative settlement where the four families would receive protected status while instead acknowledging that Israel once registered the properties with previous Jewish owners, according to Ir Amim.
It said the settlers rejected that proposal, while the families asked for more time to consider it.
“The settlement was very challenging, especially with the implied acknowledgement of the ownership of the other side,” said Ahmad Amara, a consultant to the residents’ legal team. He said the court gave the sides one week to respond.
The plight of the Sheikh Jarrah families has drawn widespread international attention and criticism of what Palestinians and human rights groups say are discriminatory Israeli property laws aimed at pushing Palestinians out of Jerusalem to preserve its Jewish majority. The Israeli rights group B’Tselem and the New York-based Human Rights Watch both pointed to such policies as an example of “an apartheid regime”.
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