Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah reject plan to move families out of neighbourhood

Judges say owners of Palestinians housing in east Jerusalem should take steps to secure their homes, but family representatives reject proposals

Leading family representatives for Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of east Jerusalem have rejected an Israeli court proposal for their families to move out of the neighbourhood.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Mohammad Ghneim, the family representative for the Ewa Keih, a widow of the late Ramzi Moussa, blamed Israel for the Palestinian residents’ current situation.

“The court can ask the families to voluntarily leave the neighbourhood, but it should know that it is only by reiterating the separation wall in east Jerusalem and the land grab, in particular, as well as separation from the Jerusalem Arab communities in the West Bank that will force the children of these families out of the neighbourhood,” he said.

“It is not by building more roads to increase the amount of danger and also to enable extra settlers to move freely in and out of the neighbourhood, as you have asked for.

“If this is true then what could be more shameful than to send the father of our children from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to Nablus and thus from the Jerusalem neighbourhood to Nablus,” he added.

The Israeli authorities have been ordered to provide alternative housing in east Jerusalem for six families living in the neighbourhood who have been living in a building that was built for 350 people.

The judge said that the families must make “arrangements for their departure from the houses” to make it possible for them to move into other homes in east Jerusalem, which were originally built in the 1920s by a group of Palestinian families for legalistic reasons.

The court has already ordered the Israeli authorities to demolish a large prefabricated building currently located in the neighbourhood. The family members have since been living in shelters provided by the Israeli authorities.

During a short period of time in which the family house in Sheikh Jarrah was occupied by Jewish settlers, there was widespread tension between Palestinian and Jewish settlers, with clashes erupting several times during the operation to evict Jewish settlers from the property.

Following the end of the occupation in 1967, Jordan occupied east Jerusalem and the territories west of the Jordan river. When Israel won the war in 1967 it annexed east Jerusalem and later annexed the whole of the West Bank.

Israel regards the entire territory as part of its state and considers Jewish settlement in the West Bank as “the birthright of every Jew”. The international community says settlements are illegal under international law.

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