Sheikh Jarrah Eviction Case: Court Offers Palestinians 'Protected Residents' Status

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Sheikh Jarrah residents hold up the 'peace' sign in the Israeli High Court hearing, Monday
Sheikh Jarrah residents hold up the 'peace' sign in the Israeli High Court hearing, MondayCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The Supreme Court proposed on Monday to allow the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah to remain in their homes under a "protected residents" status, a compromise aimed at resolving a years-long standoff between the residents and a Jewish settler organization that had helped spark the fighting between Israel and Hamas last May.

The court session ended in a stalemate and another hearing was scheduled. The eviction is not expected to proceed in the near future.

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According to the proposed compromise, the Palestinians, who have been living in the neighborhood since the 1950s, would be categorized as protected tenants who cannot be evicted. The residents would have to pay a small rent fee to Nahalat Shimon, a settlers' association that acquired the rights to the land that used to belong to Jewish families who lived in the neighborhood prior to Israel's establishment in 1948.

Justice Isaac Amit offering a proposal to Palestinian residents to solve the Sheikh Jarrah crisisCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The representative of Nahalat Shimon, Attorney Ilan Shemer, opposed the compromise and demanded the families recognize the Jewish ownership of the land. The Palestinians agreed to the compromise but rejected the settlers' demand. Justice Isaac Amit urged the sides to focus on the issue. 

"What we are saying is, let's move from the level of principles to the levels of practicality," said Justice Amit. "People must continue to live there and that's the idea, to try to reach a practical arrangement without making various declarations. We have seen how much this interests the media. We want a practical solution." 

Protest in Sheikh Jarrah disbanded by police over the weekend

After the discussion ended without an agreement, the justices requested the Palestinians to submit a list of those eligible for the protected resident status within seven days. 

On Sunday, Haaretz reported that the Jordanian government had taken substantive steps to transfer ownership to Palestinians of contentious properties in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, but the Six-Day War cut the process short, according to documents submitted by families.

Excerpt of newly submitted documents ahead of Monday's Supreme Court hearing

This is the last chance the families have to prevent the eviction; a rejection of their petition could influence the situation faced by nine other families in similar circumstances and result in the eviction of several dozen Palestinian families from the neighborhood.

Recent months have seen tensions rise over the eviction orders; over the weekend, Israelis and Palestinians gathered in Sheikh Jarrah to demonstrate ahead of Monday’s hearing.

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