#AceNewsReport – May.13: The headlines from Sheikh Jarrah almost all ignore the basic facts of the issue: The buildings in question are owned by Jews and the Arab residents have refused to pay rent – even though they had agreed in a 1982 court case.
WHO REALLY OWNS THE LAND?Is Israel Really Trying to Evict Innocent Palestinians From Their Homes In Sheikh Jarrah? Elder of Ziyon has the details here: “Palestinians who demand 675,000 Jews be evicted because they are Jewish are complaining about ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Sheikh Jarrah,” Elder of Ziyon, May 6, 2021:
As NGO Monitor summarizes:
According to the Supreme Court, the land in question “was owned by Chief Rabbi (Hacham Bashi) Avraham Ashkenazi and Chief Rabbi Meir Orbach until the War of Independence , after they purchased it in 1875 from its Arab owners.”
Subsequently, two Jewish organizations, Va’ad Eidat HaSfaradim and Va’ad HaKlali L’Knesset Yisrael, worked to register the land with the British Mandatory government in 1946….
Sheikh Jarrah explained: The past and present of East Jerusalem neighbourhood
Sheikh Jarrah, the Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem facing imminent Israeli eviction, was once a breezy orchard lying less than a kilometre north of the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
In the early 20th century, wealthy Palestinian families moved to build modern houses in the area, escaping the narrow streets and the hustle and bustle of their air-tight homes in the Old City.
The neighbourhood’s name refers to the personal physician of the Islamic general Saladin, who is believed to have settled there when Muslim armies captured the city from Christian crusaders in 1187.
Refugees from Palestine 1948
In 1956, 28 Palestinian families settled in the neighbourhood. Those families were part of a wider population of 750,000 forcibly expelled by Zionist militias during the 1948 war – known to Palestinians as the Nakba, or “catastrophe” – from the Arab towns and cities that became Israel.
East Jerusalem was administered by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which governed the West Bank. Jordan had built houses for the 28 Palestinian families in 1956 with the approval of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.
In the 1960s, the families agreed a deal with the Jordanian government that would make them the owners of the land and houses, receiving official land deeds signed in their names after three years. In return, they would renounce their refugee status.
However, the deal was cut short as Israel captured and illegally occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and Jordan lost control of the territories.
Currently, there are 38 Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah, four of them facing imminent eviction, while three are expected to be removed on 1 August.
The rest are in different stages of court cases, going head-to-head with powerful Israeli settler groups in Israeli courts.
Jerusalem’s ‘Holy Basin’
Since Israel seized East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, Israeli settler organisations have claimed ownership of the land in Sheikh Jarrah and have filed multiple successful lawsuits to evict Palestinians from the neighbourhood.
Two settler groups filed lawsuits saying that Sephardic Jews owned the land in 1885, during Ottoman rule, which ended in 1917.
Israelis have made similar claims to owning Palestinian lands that lie less than a kilometre away from the Old City of Jerusalem.
Israel has a grand settlement strategy called the “Holy Basin,” which is a set of settler units and a string of parks themed after biblical places and figures around the Old City of Jerusalem. The plan requires the removal of Palestinian houses in the area.
In November, an Israeli court ratified the eviction of 87 Palestinians from the Batan al-Hawa area in Silwan, south of Al-Aqsa mosque, in favour of the Israeli settler group Ateret Cohanim.
This group, which aims to expand the presence of settlers inside Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and around and inside the Old City, had sued the residents of Batan al-Hawa, claiming that the land was owned by Yemeni Jews during the Ottoman period until 1938, when the British Mandate moved them due to political tensions.
Israeli law works in favour of settlers by allowing only Jews to claim property they claim they have owned prior to 1948 while denying the same right to Palestinians.
Owners turned tenants
On Sunday, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered that the Iskafi, Kurd, Jaanoi and Qassem families – consisting of 30 adults and 10 children – evacuate their homes by 6 May. These families have been shunted around the courts for almost four years.
The court gave the Hammad, Dagani and Daoudi families living in the same area until 1 August to evacuate.
In 1982, Israeli settler groups asked the court to evict 24 Palestinian families living in Shiekh Jarrah. In 1991, the families faced another twist when they accused their Israeli lawyer and legal representative of forging their signatures on documents in 1991 stating that the ownership of the lands belonged to the settlers.
Since then, Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah had been treated as tenants in front of the Israel courts, facing removal orders to allow the way for settlers to take over their houses.
In 2005, the Israeli court dismissed Ottoman documents presented by Suleiman Darwish Hijazi, one of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah, as evidence of his ownership of the land.
‘It looks like a war zone’: Israeli forces violently crack down on Palestinians in Sheikh JarrahRead More »
In 2002, 43 Palestinians were evicted from the area and Israeli settlers took over their properties. In 2008, the al-Kurd family was removed, and in 2009, the Hanoun and Ghawi families were evicted and in 2017 the Shamasneh family was also removed from their home by Israeli settlers.
Palestinians had called for Jordan to release official papers and documents to prove their ownership. In April, Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi handed over documents proving Palestinian ownership of their properties in Sheikh Jarrah, in a bid to prevent a new mass eviction.
Last week, the Jordanian government ratified 14 agreement from the 1960s with Palestinian families in Shiekh Jarrah to strengthen their position against Israeli courts.
Since the beginning of 2020, Israeli courts have ordered the eviction of 13 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.
The area became a focal point of protest and sit in solidarity activities, drawing in Palestinian and anti-occupation Israeli and international activists.
The disputed land was bought in 1875 from Arab owners by the area’s Chief Rabbi; it was then owned by his successor until — we are told — the 1948 war. This was the finding of Israel’s Supreme Court, which is notorious for bending over backwards to find for the Palestinian side in cases brought before it. But the title in this instance was clear-cut. The land in dispute was then bought from the rabbinate by two Jewish organizations, There is some confusion here. It’s unclear if these properties were bought during the War of Independence in 1948, as the Supreme Court stated, or two years earlier, when the new buyers “worked to register” their ownership with the Mandatory government. Whatever the correct dates for the transfer of ownership, the owners of the land were undeniably Jews.
According to a 1979 High Court decision, and re-affirmed repeatedly in subsequent cases, as in the case of any tenant living on someone else’s property, residents living on the land owned by these organizations were required to pay rent to the organizations that owned the properties. Their failure to do so, along with instances of illegal building and illegally renting properties to others, resulted in the current legal proceedings against them, culminating in the District Court decision.
There are only four Arab families now being asked to leave land they do not own and for which they have always refused to pay rent, though the propaganda campaign being waged by the Palestinians leaves the distinct impression that hundreds of Arabs are in danger of eviction without cause.
There is nothing complicated about this case. It’s a question of property law, of who has title to four parcels of land. The land was originally bought by Jews in 1875, and has continued to be owned, without interruption, by a handful of Jewish owners. The land is now owned by the Nahalat Shimon Company, which bought the properties from two Jewish organizations, Va’ad Eidat HaSfaradim and Va’ad HaKlali L’Knesset Yisrael. The four Arab families living on these parcels have never paid rent to the Jewish owners. In addition, they have built structures illegally on part of the land they occupy, and some have illegally rented out to other Arabs the properties that they do not themselves own, nor pay any rent on.
Crucially, in 1982, a number of residents- including those whose descendants appealed to the District Court- agreed in Magistrate Court that the 2 Israeli non-profits were the legal land owners….
Having admitted in 1982 that two Israeli non-profits owned the land in question (which they subsequently sold, in 2003, to the Nahalat Shimon organization), the Arabs living on those properties are estopped to deny that admission.
There is no “ethnic cleansing” going on here. If Jews lived on these same properties and had refused over many years to pay rent to the properties’ rightful owners, they, too, would face eviction proceedings.
Today, the Palestinian National Council sent letters to the heads of parliaments around the world and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, demanding support to stop the “ethnic cleansing of Jerusalemites” in Sheikh Jarrah….
There is no cloud on the title of these four properties. They were bought from Arabs by Jews in 1875, and have been owned by Jews, or Jewish organizations, ever since. Every attempt by the Arabs to lay claim to ownership has been roundly rejected by a series of court decisions.
But will any of this – the chain of title to the land back to 1875, the non-payment of rent by Arabs “squatting” on this land — be reported by the mainstream media, or will that media stick with the PA’s narrative of cruel evictions being wantonly carried out by Israelis intent on seizing strategically-located parcels of land from their rightful Arab owners, as part of a campaign to “Judaize” East Jerusalem? Alas, we both know the answer to that.
#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.13: 2021:
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