Former A-G: Give Jewish-owned Sheikh Jarrah properties to Palestinians

These kind of evictions happen in cases where Arabs are living in properties owned by Jews from before 1948, who were forced out when Jordanian seized eastern Jerusalem.

August 13, 2017 05:11
3 minute read.
A house belonging to Jews in east Jerusalem's Shei

sheikh jarrah jewish house 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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The government should expropriate disputed properties in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem and give them to Arabs living in them, former attorney-general Michael Ben- Yair said on Friday.

Ben-Yair, whose family owned properties in the neighborhood before 1948, was speaking from the house of the Shamasneh family, who are under threat of eviction and supposed to leave their home on Sunday.

“If the Israeli government would have acted decently toward all its residents, including you [the Arab residents], it would have appropriated the properties in the neighborhood [from their Jewish owners who lived there before the War of Independence] and given these properties to the Palestinians who live there today,” said Ben- Yair, who served as the attorney-general under prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu from 1993 to 1997.

“My family and the family of my cousin who were forced to leave the neighborhood in January 1948 got properties of Palestinians refugees on Jaffa Road and in the Katamon neighborhood in west Jerusalem,” he added.

“They were worth much more than the properties that we left in Sheikh Jarrah.”

Ben-Yair said if Israel will conduct land registration in Sheikh Jarrah, he would demand that the ownership of the building that his family had would go to the Arabs who live in it today.

“The current Israeli law that enables double compensation only for Jews for [lost] properties in east Jerusalem from the times before 1948 is unjust,” he said.

The Jerusalem Post
has learned that the Bailiff’s Office issued an order to the Shamasneh family to leave the house it has been living in by last Wednesday, following a Supreme Court ruling from 2013.

After appealing to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, the family received a five-day extension that will expire on Sunday. The family is now carrying out a legal battle along with activists to prevent the eviction.

Eyal Raz, an activist opposing the eviction, told the Post that the family’s lawyer, Sai’id Ghalia, plans to appeal to the magistrate’s court once again on Sunday.

These kind of evictions happen in cases where Arabs are living in properties owned by Jews from before 1948, who were forced out when Jordanian seized eastern Jerusalem. Under Jordanian rule, these properties were under the jurisdiction of the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property, and Arab refugees, mainly from the Jerusalem area, were housed there.

Since Israel reunified the city in 1967, legal disputes have been taking place over some of these properties.

The European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah expressed concern regarding the threat of eviction of the Shamasneh family.

“The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah recall the successive Foreign Affairs Council [composed of the foreign ministers of the member states] conclusions and statements in which the EU has repeated its strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, including evictions and demolitions,” the EU missions said on Friday.

“The settlement policy is illegal under international law, and its continuation undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.”

The Palestinian Authority’s Negotiations Affairs Department Office condemned the eviction attempt and said it proves Israel’s desire to take over assets near Jerusalem’s Old City.

“The following report [on the eviction] highlights the current Israeli colonial-settlement plans aimed at fragmenting the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the occupied capital,” the PA said. “Israel, the occupying power, aims at building a ring of illegal colonial-settlements around the Old City of Jerusalem, while dispossessing the indigenous Palestinian population. The international community has a legal, political and moral responsibility to stop treating Israel as a state above the law and hold it accountable for its systematic and ongoing crimes and violations.”

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