Three Arab families in east Jerusalem said on Tuesday night they were terrified they might be the next group of families living on the streets of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood once their lease ends on September 30, after a Supreme Court decision on Sunday determined that dozens of houses in Sheikh Jarrah would revert back to Jewish ownership.

“I’m sick and ill, and now I’m nervous all the time,” said Nazira Siam, 68, who lives in a house in the Em Haron section of Sheikh Jarrah with her son, his wife, and their two toddlers.

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“Of course we’re very afraid,” said Anamem Wael, who lives with his wife, mother and four children in another of the houses where the lease is not expected to be renewed.

“We have nowhere else to live,” he said. “We’re scared and afraid and expecting them to come at any time.”

Other residents in the neighborhood were uneasy, though most thought it would be a long time before actual evictions took place, since the eviction order would need to wind its way through the court system.

None of the families had started to pack their belongings, nor were neighbors planning a round-the-clock vigil.

The latest crisis in the ongoing dispute between Jews and Palestinians over ownership of lands in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood involves a 10-dunam tract of land on the west side of Nablus Road in east Jerusalem.

Until now, the dispute, which has led to the uprooting of three Palestinian families and their replacement by Jewish right-wing nationalists, has focused on the eastern side of the road, in the area known as Shimon Hatzadik, and been the scene of weekly protests by leftwing and human rights activists against the forced removal of the families and the threatened displacement of many more.

On Sunday, however, the High Court of Justice upheld a lower court ruling determining that a parcel of land on the western side of Nablus Road also belonged to Jews who, according to the ruling, purchased it in 1892.

The panel of three Supreme Court Justices, including Miriam Naor, Esther Hayut and Yoram Danziger, upheld the lower ruling declaring that the land sandwiched between Nablus Road and Highway 1 belonged to Jewish, rather than Palestinian, owners, paving the way for the gradual expulsion of the 30 Palestinian families currently living there.

The first three families received notices two months ago and started working with the activist group Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement to prevent the eviction. The movement has been active in the neighborhood for the past year, ever since three other Palestinian families were evicted from their homes in the middle of the night and Jewish families immediately moved into the buildings in August 2009.

“We really believed they would win the court case, so now we’re just starting to understand what’s going on,” said Avner Inbal, an activist with the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement.

Both residents and activists highlighted the timing of the announcement, which coincided with the end of the 10- month construction freeze in the West Bank.

“They want to prove that they’re not a partner for peace, and that’s what we understand,” said Amal, a community leader in Sheikh Jarrah, who requested her last name not be used.

Jewish residents of Sheikh Jarrah celebrated the decision.

“We have a right to this land, because these houses have deeds in the Bible and deeds that we’ve proven twice in court, and that’s why we’ll return, because all of Jerusalem belongs to the nation of Israel,” Rabbi Yonatan Yosef, a resident of Shimon Hatzadik and the grandson of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Em Haron is a more runThree Arab families in east Jerusalem said on Tuesday night they were terrified they might be the next group of families living on the streets of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood once their lease ends on September 30, after a Supreme Court decision on Sunday determined that dozens of houses in Sheikh Jarrah would revert back to Jewish ownership.

“I’m sick and ill, and now I’m nervous all the time,” said Nazira Siam, 68, who lives in a house in the Em Haron section of Sheikh Jarrah with her son, his wife, and their two toddlers.

“Of course we’re very afraid,” said Anamem Wael, who lives with his wife, mother and four children in another of the houses where the lease is not expected to be renewed.

“We have nowhere else to live,” he said. “We’re scared and afraid and expecting them to come at any time.”

Other residents in the neighborhood were uneasy, though most thought it would be a long time before actual evictions took place, since the eviction order would need to wind its way through the court system.

None of the families had started to pack their belongings, nor were neighbors planning a round-the-clock vigil.

The latest crisis in the ongoing dispute between Jews and Palestinians over ownership of lands in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood involves a 10-dunam tract of land on the west side of Nablus Road in east Jerusalem.

Until now, the dispute, which has led to the uprooting of three Palestinian families and their replacement by Jewish right-wing nationalists, has focused on the eastern side of the road, in the area known as Shimon Hatzadik, and been the scene of weekly protests by leftwing and human rights activists against the forced removal of the families and the threatened displacement of many more.

On Sunday, however, the High Court of Justice upheld a lower court ruling determining that a parcel of land on the western side of Nablus Road also belonged to Jews who, according to the ruling, purchased it in 1892.

The panel of three Supreme Court Justices, including Miriam Naor, Esther Hayut and Yoram Danziger, upheld the lower ruling declaring that the land sandwiched between Nablus Road and Highway 1 belonged to Jewish, rather than Palestinian, owners, paving the way for the gradual expulsion of the 30 Palestinian families currently living there.

The first three families received notices two months ago and started working with the activist group Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement to prevent the eviction. The movement has been active in the neighborhood for the past year, ever since three other Palestinian families were evicted from their homes in the middle of the night and Jewish families immediately moved into the buildings in August 2009.

“We really believed they would win the court case, so now we’re just starting to understand what’s going on,” said Avner Inbal, an activist with the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement.

Both residents and activists highlighted the timing of the announcement, which coincided with the end of the 10- month construction freeze in the West Bank.

“They want to prove that they’re not a partner for peace, and that’s what we understand,” said Amal, a community leader in Sheikh Jarrah, who requested her last name not be used.

Jewish residents of Sheikh Jarrah celebrated the decision.

“We have a right to this land, because these houses have deeds in the Bible and deeds that we’ve proven twice in court, and that’s why we’ll return, because all of Jerusalem belongs to the nation of Israel,” Rabbi Yonatan Yosef, a resident of Shimon Hatzadik and the grandson of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Em Haron is a more runThree Arab families in east Jerusalem said on Tuesday night they were terrified they might be the next group of families living on the streets of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood once their lease ends on September 30, after a Supreme Court decision on Sunday determined that dozens of houses in Sheikh Jarrah would revert back to Jewish ownership.

“I’m sick and ill, and now I’m nervous all the time,” said Nazira Siam, 68, who lives in a house in the Em Haron section of Sheikh Jarrah with her son, his wife, and their two toddlers.

“Of course we’re very afraid,” said Anamem Wael, who lives with his wife, mother and four children in another of the houses where the lease is not expected to be renewed.

“We have nowhere else to live,” he said. “We’re scared and afraid and expecting them to come at any time.”

Other residents in the neighborhood were uneasy, though most thought it would be a long time before actual evictions took place, since the eviction order would need to wind its way through the court system.

None of the families had started to pack their belongings, nor were neighbors planning a round-the-clock vigil.

The latest crisis in the ongoing dispute between Jews and Palestinians over ownership of lands in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood involves a 10-dunam tract of land on the west side of Nablus Road in east Jerusalem.

Until now, the dispute, which has led to the uprooting of three Palestinian families and their replacement by Jewish right-wing nationalists, has focused on the eastern side of the road, in the area known as Shimon Hatzadik, and been the scene of weekly protests by leftwing and human rights activists against the forced removal of the families and the threatened displacement of many more.

On Sunday, however, the High Court of Justice upheld a lower court ruling determining that a parcel of land on the western side of Nablus Road also belonged to Jews who, according to the ruling, purchased it in 1892.

The panel of three Supreme Court Justices, including Miriam Naor, Esther Hayut and Yoram Danziger, upheld the lower ruling declaring that the land sandwiched between Nablus Road and Highway 1 belonged to Jewish, rather than Palestinian, owners, paving the way for the gradual expulsion of the 30 Palestinian families currently living there.

The first three families received notices two months ago and started working with the activist group Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement to prevent the eviction. The movement has been active in the neighborhood for the past year, ever since three other Palestinian families were evicted from their homes in the middle of the night and Jewish families immediately moved into the buildings in August 2009.

“We really believed they would win the court case, so now we’re just starting to understand what’s going on,” said Avner Inbal, an activist with the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement.

Both residents and activists highlighted the timing of the announcement, which coincided with the end of the 10- month construction freeze in the West Bank.

“They want to prove that they’re not a partner for peace, and that’s what we understand,” said Amal, a community leader in Sheikh Jarrah, who requested her last name not be used.

Jewish residents of Sheikh Jarrah celebrated the decision.

“We have a right to this land, because these houses have deeds in the Bible and deeds that we’ve proven twice in court, and that’s why we’ll return, because all of Jerusalem belongs to the nation of Israel,” Rabbi Yonatan Yosef, a resident of Shimon Hatzadik and the grandson of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Em Haron is a more rundown section of Sheikh Jarrah, and residents complained of frequent illness because of the dilapidated state of the houses.

They said that it was impossible to get permits to renovate or expand the buildings.

“There’s a lot of inequality [between the Arabs and the Jews], and for us that’s the important issue, not what the courts say about this document or that document,” said Inbal.

“The question is if Arabs and Jews deserve the same treatment,” Inbal continued. “And if the answer is yes, then there are two options: One is that everything before 1948 goes back to its original owners, which means all the buildings in Talpiyot and Baka go back to Arabs, which most Israelis, including me, do not want. Or the properties in Sheikh Jarrah stay in the hands of the Palestinians.”

Yehudit Oppenheimer, executive director of nonprofit organization Ir Amim, said in a statement that “the political future of Sheikh Jarrah should be determined in negotiations. The Jewish settlement efforts in Palestinian east Jerusalem neighborhoods are a provocation and harm the interests of Israel. Anyone knows that in effect, Sheikh Jarrah is not part of the Jewish capital.”

Ir Amim, which advocates for a stable solution to Jerusalem, was not involved in the Supreme Court case.

Meanwhile, right-wing activist Aryeh King, the founder of the Israel Land Fund, told the Post, “We should now expect Jewish building plans in Sheikh Jarrah.

Court decisions have prevented the owners from using land they owned for almost 10 years. Now that things have changed, we’ll be able to begin building.”

During the court case, the Palestinians, represented by attorney Saleh Abu Hussein, argued that the land was originally purchased by Muhammad and Ibrahim Mao and that in 1892, the owners leased it for 90 years to a Jewish man named Yosef Meyuhas.

Meyuhas, according to Abu Hussein, divided the land into 60 plots and rented it out to Jews, who built their homes there.

They continued to live in Sheikh Jarrah until 1948, when the Jordanian Legion occupied the area and the Jewish residents fled to Israeli territory.

Just like in the Shimon Hatzadik section on the eastern side of Nablus Road, the area to the west was taken over by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property and distributed to Palestinian refugees who moved into the vacant homes. According to Abu Hussein, 30 Palestinian families live in the area today.

The Jordanians could not determine the ownership of the land up until they lost control of it during the 1967 Six Day War, because they had considered it enemy property and could not hear conflicting claims by Palestinians and Jews.

When Israel took over, it decided to resolve the question. The decision was necessary because in 1970, the Knesset passed a law giving Israelis who had owned property in east Jerusalem the right to regain possession of it. The law did not give east Jerusalem Palestinians who had owned property in Israel the same right.

In determining the ownership, Israeli authorities had to decide between conflicting claims by Jews and Palestinians, and the dispute reached the Jerusalem District Court in 1997. The Palestinians who claimed the land, Wakf Mao and Suleiman Hajazi, were descendants of the original owners. The court ruled in favor of the Jewish claimants, including the custodian-general and Irwin Moscowitz, a wealthy American Jew who strongly backs the Jewish settlement program in east Jerusalem.

In 2006, the court ruled against the Palestinians. It concluded that the evidence they had provided to prove their case was based on documents, many of which were unconfirmed photocopies of the originals or had not been translated into Hebrew as demanded by the court.

Much of the testimony was based on hearsay evidence, since the land transactions had taken place before the witnesses were born, the court added.

Despite the ruling, the Jewish owners could not take action since the Palestinians immediately appealed to the Supreme Court. It has taken four years for the court to reject the appeal.

Meanwhile, in response to the Supreme Court ruling, Abu Hussein said bitterly, “This is the way things are in Jerusalem. This is the way things are in the Israeli courts.”

The Supreme Court ruling removes the last obstacle keeping the Jewish owners from taking over the land and houses and possibly expelling the inhabitants of the past 60 years.

“I hope the Arabs will act like human beings and hand over the property that they rented all these years without causing harm to the owners,” King told the Post. “I expect them to show gratitude to the people who let them rent the property.”

He added that he hoped more Jewish landowners would follow this precedent. “We will try to convince them to sue Arabs for large amounts of money, because they have caused a lot of harm to the landowners,” he said.

Regarding the Sheikh Jarah activists protesting the Jewish takeover in the neighborhood, King said, “Left-wing anarchist extremists are always looking for a reason to protest.”

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report

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