Sheikh Jarrah Court deal to keep families in homes for 15 years

As protected tenants, the families would have the right to make repairs or renovations to the property. They would be required to pay rent biennially in the sum of NIS 2,400.

 Protesters take part in a demonstration against the possible eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, after an Israeli court accepted Jewish settler land claims, in east Jerusalem June 11, 2021.  (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Protesters take part in a demonstration against the possible eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, after an Israeli court accepted Jewish settler land claims, in east Jerusalem June 11, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

The High Court of Justice (HCJ) has presented a compromise to four Palestinian families in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah that would allow them to remain in their homes for 15 years.

During that time the issue of land ownership could be adjudicated, but in the interim, the court would recognize the families as protects tenants and the Jewish-owned Nahalat Shimon company as the owners of the property.

As protected tenants, the families would have the right to make repairs or renovations to the property. They would be required to pay rent biennially in the sum of NIS 2,400.

PALESTINIANS WAVE Hamas flags on the last Friday of Ramadan in protest over the possible eviction of families in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, earlier this month. (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)PALESTINIANS WAVE Hamas flags on the last Friday of Ramadan in protest over the possible eviction of families in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, earlier this month. (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

The Palestinian families would also agree to pay legal and court costs in the sum of NIS 30,000 to the Nahalat Shimon Company.

The three judges – Yitzhak Amit, Noam Sohlberg, and Daphne Barak-Erez – said that their decision was not binding and gave both sides until November 2nd to reply to the offer,

The judges said they would accept any amended compromise agreed upon by both sides.

They warned, however, that should the compromise be rejected, they would issue a binding ruling.

At issue is the fate of some 28 families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood who are faced with possible eviction due to a land dispute between them and the Nahalat Shimon Company that claims ownership of the land on which their homes are located.

The company has claimed that it holds the land rights to property, previously owned by two Jewish organizations prior to the 1948 War of Independence.

As a result of the war, the Jewish families that had been living there had to flee to western Jerusalem and Palestinian families from neighborhoods in western Jerusalem and Jaffa fled that neighborhood.

Some 28 of those Palestinian families accepted a Jordanian deal by which they received homes with ownership rights and in exchange relinquished their status as refugees.

Despite the agreement with Jordan, the property was never registered in their name. When east Jerusalem fell under Israeli rule in the aftermath of the Six-Day War of 1967, they found themselves in a battle to retain ownership of the homes that has yet to be resolved.

In the latest legal proceedings, Nahalat Shimon has won two lower court cases that affirmed their ownership rights to all 28 lots.

These four families have appealed to the HCJ to reopen and adjudicate the case and it is presumed that decisions in those cases would determine the future of the other 24 lots.

Israel has claimed that the matter is one of the basic real estate rights in property law. The Palestinians and the Israeli left have alleged that the issue of land ownership is part of the larger conflict with Israel. They have argued that the evictions are part of an effort by the political Right to evict Palestinian families in favor of Jewish ones, given that the Nahalat Shimon Company wants to develop the property lots in Sheikh Jarrah – also known as the Simon the Just (Shimon Hatzadik) neighborhood – for large-scale Jewish housing.