Last week the Jerusalem Magistrates Court ruled on the eviction of five housing units in the neighborhood of Um Haroun in Sheikh Jarrah. Justice Anna Schneider ruled that the Qiswani family must evict its home and leave it to the “Shabali” Company, owned by Jewish investors affiliated with Jerusalem City Council Member Arieh King. King himself runs a settler organization called “Israel Land Fund,” and he is the one behind the efforts to evict Palestinian families and handover their homes to settlers in Sheikh Jarrah specifically and in East Jerusalem in General.
At the center of the lawsuit is plot 38 that includes three housing units, a café and a small college, in an area of approximately 220 square meters. In 2007 the General Custodian released the property, which until then was rented to the Qiswani family that resided there since 1948, to the Jewish Aricha family. Then, in 2010, the Aricha family sold the majority of the property (11/16) to the Shabali Company. While the Qiswani family members argued that they have a lease for 20 years, provided to them by Meir Nadav of the General Custodian’s office, the court determined that this document is invalid.
In addition, yesterday Arieh King published a post on Facebook in which he stated that a further eviction, of the Shamasne family will soon be implemented by the Execution Office. In 2013 the High Court ruled “in a heavy heart” that the family, who has lived in the house since 1964, must leave its home in 18 months. The ruling was based on a law allowing the return of property owned by Jews before 1948 to the owners’ successors, but prevents this right from Palestinians who lost their lands during the same period. At the time of the ruling, there was much local and international pressure against the eviction in the form of demonstrations and statements by high-level officials.
Peace Now: The evacuation of East Jerusalemite Palestinians from their homes and properties is based on a discriminatory law, which allows the right of return to Jews only. The establishment of settlements in the heart of Palestinian neighborhood is a recipe for increased tensions, hatred and violence. The Israeli government can and should prevent the eviction of the families from the properties since this is not a real estate issue but rather it is a political issue that is at the heart of the possibility of reaching an agreement based on the two state solution.