The Israeli Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem yesterday ordered the settler organisation Ateret Cohanim to vacate the Little Petra Hotel, located in Omar Ibn Al Khattab Square, by 3 July, Arab48 reported.
It comes after the European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah voiced concerns, earlier this month, over Ateret Cohanim’s takeover of Greek Orthodox properties in the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, Anadolu News Agency reports.
The notorious settler organisation broke into the hostel as well as a nearby money exchange shop. The extremist settlers received Israeli police protection.
Palestinian Greek Orthodox Church leaders also denounced the “illegal” takeover of church property in occupied East Jerusalem by Israeli “extremists”, highlighting the “threat of extinction” as a result of the actions of “radical” Israeli groups.
Ateret Cohanim’s stated goal is the creation of a Jewish majority in the occupied Old City and Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. It works to “Judaise” East Jerusalem to achieve Jewish supremacy, which is a form of ethnic cleansing. The organisation does this by purchasing properties through front companies and then moving Jewish settlers into them.
For over 17 years, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate has been opposing Ateret Cohanim’s claims of having legally purchased the church’s properties in the Jaffa Gate area, including the Imperial Hotel and the Petra Hotel.
Medhat Deeba, an attorney representing the Palestinian Qiresh family that runs the hostel, is reported as saying that members of the Israeli organisation had taken over one of two sections of the property. “They didn’t give the residents an eviction notice, and they broke in illegally,” he explained.
He added, “This hotel is divided into two parts, the Petra Grand Hotel, and the Petra Small Hotel, which issued an eviction decision against the Saeed family and against companies in the the property that were managed by the Qirsh family, who were deliberately not informed of the eviction decision.”
The hostel is in the Old City, which Israel seized in 1967 and later annexed in a move that has never been recognised by most of the international community. Israeli law allows Jewish citizens to “reclaim” property owned by Jews in occupied East Jerusalem prior to Israel’s creation in 1948, but Palestinian Arab citizens do not have recourse to the same process. This practice is cited by human rights groups as an example of one of the many apartheid practices carried out by the occupation state.