Right-wing activists enter Arab homes amid legal controversy

Backed by the Jerusalem District Court, Elad insists the purchase of the property was legitimate.

Workers install an arch taken down for movers at the entrance to a compound taken over by Elad activists in Jerusalem (photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)
Workers install an arch taken down for movers at the entrance to a compound taken over by Elad activists in Jerusalem
(photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)
Three Arab families were evacuated from their homes in east Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood on Sunday, and activists of Elad – The Ir David Foundation, entered them.
Elad said it legally purchased them, while the Arab claimants hold that the issue was not sufficiently examined.
Ir David is a Jewish enclave in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan. Elad, the organization that manages Ir David’s national park and promotes the neighborhood’s expansion, said it bought the building from its previous owner.
In February, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the Ruweidi family’s home belonged to Elad and that the family had to vacate the building.
However, the family claims that Rezeq Ruweidi never sold the building, nor could he sell it, because the house is jointly owned by him and all six of his brothers, who never sold their shares or agreed to the sale.
According to left-wing NGO Peace Now, the Jerusalem District Court dealt only with the question of debt settlement and bankruptcy, and did not discuss whom the house belonged to before the sale.
To prove the claim, the family will need to submit a separate legal proceeding.
In addition, Peace Now said that one of the apartments that were evacuated had never belonged to Ruweidi in the first place, nor did it belong to his brothers. Ruweidi’s son had resided in it, but the apartment belongs to another person who was never a party to these legal proceedings, the group said.
During the evacuation, the family appealed to the Supreme Court, which ordered a halt to the eviction.
However, the order arrived after the evacuation had been completed, and the court decided to maintain a status- quo arrangement pending a final court ruling, in which Elad has the buildings, but is not allowed to make changes to it.
The Ruweidis said that the transaction to buy the houses was illegitimate; they submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court on Sunday.
According to the family, Elad took advantage of the bankruptcy process to win an easy legal victory in the purchase of the property.
Elad insists that the house was purchased in a legitimate manner.
“On Sunday the evacuation of the home was completed...as part of the bankruptcy of the owners [the family],” Elad said in a statement.
“The building was purchased legally over two decades ago, and the deal was examined and approved on several occasion in different courts.
“The Ir David Foundation had [previously] avoided entrance to the asset out of consideration for the residents, especially in light of family’s tragedy [the murder of Razeq Ruweidi].
“The... foundation has been purchasing buildings for over 30 years. It acted, and will continue acting according to the law,” the statement said.
After the evacuation, Peace Now said: “Elad is sending a reminder to [US] President [Donald] Trump that the embassy he plans to open in Jerusalem is in a divided city which has two separate capitals.
Continued settlement in Silwan threatens the chances of ever achieving peace and compromise on Jerusalem.”
“In the last two years, Elad has managed to take control of close to 10 additional properties in the Wadi Hilwe area in Silwan and continues to use its economic power and political status to turn Silwan into a Jewish neighborhood,” a Peace Now statement reads.
“Such an outcome would jeopardize prospects for a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem – one of the widely accepted requisites for a two-state solution.”