Deputy mayor wants more Jews in E. J'lem

Many Sheikh Jarrah homes will soon be populated with Jews, Hadari says.

By ABE SELIG
March 9, 2010 19:28
2 minute read.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor David Hadari (NRP), center,

daviv hadari sheikh jarrah 311. (photo credit: Jerusalem Municipality)

 
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Drawing criticism from left-wing groups, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor David Hadari (NRP) toured the east Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on Tuesday and called for an increase in the Jewish presence there.

"More homes in Shimon Hatzadik (the Hebrew name for Sheikh Jarrah) will soon be populated with Jews," Hadari said during the tour.

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"We're talking about property that belongs to Jews, and it's been listed as such by law," Hadari added.

"Even though leftist protesters were emboldened by the Supreme Court, which authorized them to protest here, they refuse to accept the [district] court ruling which declared that these properties and houses belong to Jews," he said.

A police force that accompanied Hadari on his tour prevented a number of Palestinian residents of the neighborhood from confronting the deputy mayor, after they attempted to complain to him, face to face, about the home evictions in the neighborhood.

As a result, Hadari added, "As upholders of the law, we must fulfill the court's decision, which called for the return of Jewish properties in the neighborhood to their legal owners."

"In accordance with that ruling," he said, "more Jewish families will be populating homes in the neighborhood soon."



Nonetheless, a spokeswoman from the NGO Ir Amim, which advocates for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Hadari's tour of the neighborhood and subsequent comments were "a preposterous provocation in an already explosive area."

"Nobody has yet heard of any constructive thing that deputy mayor Hadari has done," she said. "And this is just a very sad way for him to search for publicity."

"Four families have already been evicted in the neighborhood and there are advanced legal procedures against two more families," she added.

"We are following the court's decision, but also emphasizing the political impact of this as well – the place is exploding."

Tension in the neighborhood has remained high since the evictions of two Palestinian families,  the Gawis and Hanouns, from their Sheikh Jarrah homes in August.

Jewish families moved into the houses soon after the evictions, which occurred after the Jerusalem district court ruled in favor of Jewish claimants to the homes.

A number of Jewish families lived in the neighborhood before 1948, but fled during the War of Independence. Twenty-eight Palestinian families, who were receiving UNWRA refugee assistance, were resettled in Sheikh Jarrah in 1956 as part of a joint effort between the UN and the Jordanian government, which controlled the area until 1967.

As part of their resettlement, the families were to forgo their refugee status, and in return receive the titles to the properties – a step which never took place.

Two Jewish organizations – the Sephardi Community Committee and Nahalat Shimon International began petitioning the courts in the 1970s for renewed rights to the properties and legal battles have continued since.

Meanwhile, weekly demonstrations in the neighborhood against the home evictions have continued to grow in size and intensity. A rally in Sheikh Jarrah last Saturday night drew thousands of protesters while Friday afternoon rallies continue to draw hundreds of Israelis, Palestinians and international left-wing activists.

There has also been ongoing violence between the Palestinian and Jewish residents of the neighborhood, and a number of MKs have asked the Jerusalem Police to beef up their presence in the area as a means of preventing further unrest.

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