Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has refused to appear before the High Court of Justice and intervene in the hearing on whether to expel four Palestinian families from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.
His office today stated that Mandelblit had reviewed all the materials and "In view of the many legal proceedings conducted over the years in relation to the real estate at the center of the dispute, the attorney-general came to the general conclusion that there is no room for him to appear in the proceedings."
According to Haaretz, officials say this decision threatens the chances of stopping the expulsion of four Palestinian families as his statement allows the Israeli High Court to decide whether or not to hear the appeal.
This comes despite the attorney general requesting the hearing be cancelled last month after citing the opinion of security services that forced displacement could lead to a spiraling of violence.
Israeli movement Peace Now criticised Mendelblit's decision, calling it "a cynical attempt to evade responsibility." It called on the state "to present to the public and to the court its stance, as families are thrown out into the street by employing a set of laws that discriminates between Israelis and Palestinians."
The latest round of expulsion of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah is led by a right-wing settler group which claims to have title deeds for the homes which, in reality, belong to the Palestinians.
The forced eviction of Palestinian families is an example of Israel's crime of apartheid. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said last month that the law is "applied in an inherently discriminatory manner". It added that the transfer of Israeli civilians into occupied land is "prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime."
Under international law, Israel is an occupying power and its courts have no jurisdiction in the territory it occupies.