Court to rule on Sheikh Jarrah eviction procedure

Dozens gathered in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah Friday in solidarity with the Shamasneh family.

Mohammad Shamasneh in front of his home in home in Sheikh Jarrah, August 15, 2017. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Mohammad Shamasneh in front of his home in home in Sheikh Jarrah, August 15, 2017.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court is expected rule early this week on a Palestinian family’s appeal of an eviction order to leave the formerly Jewish-owned east Jerusalem home where it has lived for 53 years.
The Bailiff’s Office issued the eviction order to the Shamasneh family, who reside in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, north of the capital’s Old City, on June 19.
The family’s lawyer, Sa’id Ghalia, said in a court discussion that was held on Thursday that the property block mentioned in the order, might not the be the one where the Shamasnehs’ home is located.
He said that there is no proper registration of the properties in the neighborhood, and a more thorough check of the blocks and parcels is needed in order to carry out the eviction.
It is expected that the judge will turn the dispute over the terms of the eviction to the Bailiff’s Office.
This would delay the eviction for at least a short period, and possibly even longer.
In 2013, the Supreme Court issued a peremptory (final) ruling saying that the Shamasneh family needs to leave its home.
Such evictions occur in cases where Arabs have been living in properties owned by Jews who were forced out when Jordan seized eastern Jerusalem in 1948.
These properties were under the jurisdiction of the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property. Arab refugees, mainly from the Jerusalem area, were housed in them.
Meanwhile on Friday, dozens gathered in Sheikh Jarrah to show solidarity with the Shamasneh family and others who are under the threat of eviction. They marched from the neighborhood’s main square to the Shamasneh home, and then back to the square.
Eyal Raz, a leading activist and who is close to the Shamasneh family who attended the rally, told The Jerusalem Post that he hopes the court will grant a delay for the eviction, and that an appeal to the Bailiff’s Office will buy the family further time to raise awareness of its case.
“I hope that Ghalia’s claims will be checked in the proper manner, with all seriousness,” said Raz.
“A thorough check means that all properties in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood should be regulated, and the boundaries of all blocks and parcels should be clarified. There is a possibility that after this kind of examination, we would find out that the Shamasneh home is not in the block/parcel that was mentioned in the Supreme Court ruling,” he said.
Raz then reiterated the family’s assertion that the issue is not a legal one but rather a political dispute.
“It doesn’t matter whether you are right-wing or left-wing,” he said, “we all know that this is not just an ordinary real estate-related disagreement.
It is understood, especially by the local residents – dozens of families here are under the threat of eviction – but also by other Israelis, that in the center of the dispute here stands an ambition to build a new settlement in east Jerusalem.
“Israelis understand that such a move is against our interest,” said Raz. “They are not interested in opening the ‘1948 cases’ [i.e., in claiming Jewish properties from before the War of Independence].
We know that at some point it [the property claims] would be bidirectional, and then there is Baka, Talbiyeh, Katamon [neighborhoods that were Arab before the war] etc, and that is only in Jerusalem.”
Laura Wharton (Meretz-Labor), opposition leader in the Jerusalem City Council, told the Post at the rally that this case is a test for the State of Israel on how it treats residents who lived here before it came under Israeli rule.
“A major ethical question is raised here,” said Wharton, who stressed that on the one hand, not allowing Arab residents to claim their property as well [as Jews can do] is discriminatory, and on the other hand, letting them do so would threaten the Zionist enterprise.
“As an Israeli patriot who cares about the character of the country, and about its moral level, I am saddened to see that the government allows these kind of things to happen,” she said.
“I think that the government should step in and appropriate the properties and give them to the people living in them [Palestinians],” said Wharton, echoing remarks made by former attorney-general Michael Ben-Yair last week.
“We should find a just solution,” she said.