The Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) has provided the four Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah an offer which would allow them to remain in their homes for 15 years as “protected tenants”.
The ruling would also list Jewish-owned Nahalat Shimon company as the owners of the property and the three Palestinian families would be forced to pay rent biennially in the sum of 2,400 shekels ($743). The Palestinian families would also agree to pay legal and court costs in the sum of 30,000 shekels ($9,282) to the Nahalat Shimon Company. The court added that over the 15 years, the land ownership issue can be adjudicated.
There was no comment from Sheikh Jarrah’s families on the court’s proposal, however they have previously refused settlements which see them give up their land to settler groups.
Both sides now have until 2 November to reply to the non binding ruling. 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.
Israeli settlement groups claim the land where the homes are built were owned by Jews before the 1948 Nakba, which Palestinians deny.
The decision will have serious repercussions for other Palestinian families who all face eviction from their homes by Israeli settlers. Their legal case is based on the claim that Jews owned the land prior to their eviction in 1948.
Under Israeli law Jews are eligible to seek compensation and reclaim land they consider theirs. No such right however is afforded to the 750,000 Palestinians that were ethnically cleansed during 1947/48 including hundreds of thousands that remained within the state of Israel.
Israel passed several racist laws that privilege Jews over non-Jews including the seizure of Palestinian property under the so-called Absentee Property Law. Jewish settler organizations like Nahalat Shimon used the occupation states racist laws to evict Palestinians from their homes.
Jewish Voice for Peace slammed decision as another example of ethnic cleaning. “In the wake of the court decision in Sheikh Jarrah today, which relegates Palestinians to protected tenant status in houses they’ve been in for 50+ years, we must remember that there is no ‘compromise’ in these displacement cases. It is ethnic cleansing” the group said.