A protest against home demolitions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem
A protest against home demolitions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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Right-wing activist Aryeh King intends to settle 10 new Jewish families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, he announced yesterday, offering compensation to the Palestinian families who will subsequently be evicted.

King spoke at a press conference called to discuss a recent Supreme Court ruling which determined that several Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah belonged to the heirs of the Jews who built the neighborhood in the late 19th century.

"We expect to continue the policy of returning Jews to the area," said King. "We aren't trying to turn the Arabs out into the street. We speak openly with them, and even set aside a budget to help every Arab who wants to leave the neighborhood honorably, not like the leftists and Arab nationalist who want to see them lying in the street in the winter."

King stressed at the conference that the neighborhood had Jewish origins. "We didn't come to the Arab, trick him and take his home away through deceit - but we are returning to places where we once were," he said.

The neighborhood was built by Jews in the late 19th century, and until the War of Independence in 1948 was known as Nahalat Shimon. The heirs of the Jewish owners of the land, whom King persuaded to evict the Palestinian residents and replace them with Jews, also attended the conference.

Eviction orders

King has delivered 10 eviction orders to families living in Sheikh Jarrah and to the south of the neighborhood.

"We will complete the legal steps in the coming months and then we'll begin working to persuade the Arabs to leave of their own good will," he said. "I have no interest in evicting an Arab in the middle of the night and throwing him out into the street. We are even prepared to pay them, although they don't deserve it."

Yesterday's press conference was interrupted by a few activists from the Sheikh Jarrah solidarity movement, which grew around opposition to the Jewish settlers moving into the primarily Palestinian neighborhood. King lashed out at the activists, saying: "There are criminals among you, there are pedophiles, rapists and murderers among you. You're an abused child."

The movement issued the following statement in response: "Aryeh King's vision is one of hostility and ongoing war. Considering the recognition of Jewish ownership of assets abandoned by Jews in 1948, it will be impossible to avoid recognizing Palestinian ownership of Palestinian assets abandoned in West Jerusalem under similar circumstances. A democratic state cannot honor the right to property on the basis of racial discrimination."