Israel's Top Court Postpones Palestinian Eviction Hearing Amid Jerusalem Violence

After attorney general requests deferral, High Court says a new date for the hearing will be set within 30 days and that the Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah will remain in their homes until a decision is made

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Palestinians protesting against the planned eviction of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
Palestinians protesting against the planned eviction of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Credit: Emil Salman

Israel's High Court of Justice postponed Sunday a hearing on the planned evictions of three Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah at the request of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.

The hearing was slated for Monday, which is also Jerusalem Day, usually celebrated with a flag march led by religious-Zionist youth around the Old City wall, and this year is expected to intensify the tensions in the city amid the recent violence between Israel Police and Palestinians.

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High Court Justice Yitzhak Amit said that a date for the hearing would be set within 30 days, adding that the Palestinian families will remain in their homes until the court reaches a decision. 

Minutes before the court had announced its decision to delay the hearing, Mendelblit requested a two-week deferral, so he might weigh taking part in the case.

Earlier Sunday, the attorneys representing the families from Sheikh Jarrah, Sami Arshid and Salah Abu Hussein, formally requested to involve the attorney general in the proceedings due to the political and legal implications this case may have.

Justice Amit later instructed Mendelblit to respond to a request from the Palestinian families urging him to take part in the legal battle. 

“Different issues arise in the case, legal and factual that concern the public and have wide-ranging consequences that transcend the personal conflict between the families and the defendant, not to mention with political implications. It is therefore very important to bring the attorney general into the process,” the attorneys wrote in their appeal.

Arshid added that the planned evictions are illegal and that several government authorities had a key role in the affair. The attorney general should participate in the hearing because “it is clear that the decision on this issue has broad implications also on Arab East Jerusalem residents with regard to the laws on absentee assets,” Arshid said.

Clashes erupted over the weekend on the Temple Mount, at various sites in the Old City and in Sheikh Jarrah. They follow escalating tensions in the city throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

At least 205 Palestinians and 18 Israeli officers were injured in Friday’s confrontations, which drew international condemnations and calls for calm. 

For roughly 30 years, Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah have faced the risk of eviction because they live on land that was purchased by Jews at the end of the 19th century in the vicinity of the Tomb of Simeon the Just. The legal battle is being waged between the Palestinian residents and a company called Nachalat Shimon, which is controlled by right-wing activists seeking to bring Jews into the neighborhood.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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