‘In 10 years, 400 Jewish families will live in Arab Sheikh Jarrah’

Israel Land Fund’s Arieh King tells The Jerusalem Post the east Jerusalem neighborhood is undergoing a revolution.

NABLUS ROAD is seen in the center of the capital’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood yesterday. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
NABLUS ROAD is seen in the center of the capital’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood yesterday.
In the next decade, some 400 Jewish families will live in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, says Arieh King, the director of the Israel Land Fund NGO and a Jerusalem city councilman.
“Sheikh Jarrah, or Shimon Hatzadik, is going through a revolution, and we will see its outcome in something like five years,” King told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
“We have now four main compounds that we are working on. In our next phase we plan to house families in two more compounds – one of 300 housing units and the other of 200 housing units. In about 10 years we will have in [the two sub-neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah] Shimon Hatzadik and Nahalat Shimon, some 400, maybe 500 Jewish families.
“This our goal,” he said.
For now, there are five Jewish homes in Sheikh Jarrah, located north of the Old City.
King said that his aim is to connect Mount Scopus, which was an Israeli enclave in Transjordan before 1967 and is surrounded mostly by Arab neighborhoods, to Route 1 and Mea She’arim, which abutted the cease-fire line until 1967.
The Israel Land Fund locates Jews who owned land in east Jerusalem before 1948, mainly in the Sheikh Jarrah, Beit Hanina and Beit Safafa neighborhoods, and helps them to claim their property.
“We give them legal assistance, financial assistance, and even help them to [physically] reach their property.
Sometimes there are too frightened to get there and we provide security [services] for them,” King said.
King acknowledged that in most cases, the NGO reaches out to former land owners and encourages them to claim their property from the state.
“Some of them just got tired of the situation,” he said.
“The contacted the Arabs [living on their property] or the police and did not make any progress, and we call them to offer our assistance.”
King is helping the owner of the property in Sheikh Jarrah in which the Shamasneh family has longed lived.
In 2013, the Supreme Court issued a peremptory (final) ruling saying the family must vacate the home within 18 months.
The Shamasnehs have refused to leave. King turned to the Bailiff’s Office to evict them. The Bailiff’s Office issued an eviction order last month saying they must leave by September 9.
King highlighted the legal perspective of the issue, and said that it was simply a case in which a landlord decides to end a contract with his tenants.
“What would have happened in such a case in London or Los Angeles? What would he [a landlord] have done with such tenants? He would have kicked them out a long time ago,” said King.
He rejected claims that the phenomenon of Jews moving to Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem is drawing domestic and international attention.
“If it was 15 years ago you would have seen headlines everywhere, but now, no one cares,” said King.
“The Arabs are apathetic about this. It is hard for them, but they accept the fact that we are returning."
“Even in the small demonstrations that are held against that, most attendees are Jews,” he said.