Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah Compromise Rejected Under Palestinian Authority Pressure

Some of the Sheikh Jarrah residents facing eviction wanted to accept the compromise to prevent their eviction, while others argued that paying rent would represent recognition of a Jewish ownership over their homes

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
People protesting against the eviction of Palestinian families living in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, this May.
People protesting against the eviction of Palestinian families living in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, this May.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Pressure from the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas led the families facing eviction in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood to reject a compromise proposed by Israel's Supreme Court that could have prevented the evictions.

The heads of the families involved leaned toward accepting the compromise offer, but in the end rejected it on Tuesday under pressure from the Palestinian Authority.

According to the detailed compromise proposed by the justices, three Palestinian families would receive the status of first-generation protected tenants – in other words, another two generations of the family can remain in the houses with this status – and one of the families will be recognized as second-generation protected tenants, which will apply to the next generation too. They would be allowed to remain in their homes for the next 15 years, or until the legal proceedings between the parties in the matter are completed.

In return, each family would have to pay an extremely low annual rent of 2,400 shekels ($750) to the Nahalat Shimon nonprofit that controls the Jewish religious trust that owns the property. The families would also be able to continue with their claims to ownership of the properties with the land office in the Justice Ministry.

People affected by the Sheikh Jarrah evictions in court, this August.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Since the compromise was proposed by the court a month ago, the residents met with senior PA officials and religious leaders from the Muslim Waqf. Representatives of the Jordanian government and the U.S. State Department were also involved in the meetings.

In the end, the residents opted to make their own decision, which would receive the support of the entities involved in the meetings. The residents disagreed with each other – some wanted to accept the compromise to prevent their eviction, and continue their legal battle with the land office, while others argued that this was a struggle over principles, and paying rent would represent recognition of the Jewish ownership of their homes.

Over the past few days it seemed that the residents planned on accepting the compromise. On Tuesday morning, the PA's Jerusalem Affairs Ministry released a statement in support of the residents and “any decision that they see as appropriate to establish their hold on the houses.” But in the afternoon, Abbas’ office began to apply aggressive pressure on the residents to reject the compromise, and in the end they informed the court that they were not accepting the compromise proposal. “The petitioners are once again stressing that they are the owners holding the full rights to the housing units and the land,” they wrote.

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