03/03/2022, 13.36
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Supreme Court 'freezes' expropriation of Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah

The dispute now passes to the Israeli Ministry of Justice, which will have to assess the validity of the ownership documents. A process that could take years, meanwhile the "tenants" will pay a symbolic annual sum. OCHA report: since Biden's ascension to the White House, the Israeli government has accelerated demolitions, leaving over 1,300 Palestinians, including children, homeless. 



Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - A new chapter jhas begun in the row between Israelis and Palestinians over the disputed neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem. In recent days, the Israeli Supreme Court has frozen the expropriation of homes from four Palestinian families, pending further verification by the competent authorities on the validity of the ownership certificates submitted.

Reuters reports the Palestinians had challenged an earlier ruling by a lower court, in that case in favour of the settlers. The judges had ruled that the families were living on land belonging to Jews in territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war and later annexed in a move that was never internationally recognised.

The Palestinian families criticised the legitimacy and validity of the documents presented by those claiming the land and vowed to fight to stay, going so far as to engage in clashes with Jewish settlers and police forces in the area. The neighbourhood in the eastern sector of the holy city has become a symbol of resistence - so much so that it triggered a flash war in Gaza last May - in Palestinian claims for their own land and for an independent and sovereign state from Israel. 

On 1 March, the Supreme Court ruled that Palestinian families will be eligible for tenant status until the Israeli Ministry of Justice decides on the dispute and determines who is eligible to own land and houses. In the meantime, the "tenants" will pay a symbolic annual amount into an account as an escrow. In an editorial published in Israel Hayom, Nadav Shraga, while not going into the merits of the ruling, stressed that it could fuel "terror" and "encourage further attacks against Jews" and their property, as well as fan the flames of the struggle against Israel and its sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that since Democrat Joe Biden ascended to the US presidency in January 2021, there has been a dramatic increase in demolitions with over 1,300 Palestinians, including children, now displaced. The statistics factor in residential and commercial properties that have suffered permanent closures or destruction, along with cases of tampering with key infrastructure such as water pipes, communication routes and network facilities.

Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu, interviewed by The Intercept, points out that this policy is what "the future of relations" between Israel and Palestine consists of, according to Prime Minister Naftali Bennet. "The future," she warns, "lies in the fact that Palestinians can be isolated in these little ghettos. And all the land surrounding these ghettos will slowly be taken - or rather, stolen - for the benefit of Israeli settlements". Further confirming the policy of demolishing the homes of entire families as collective punishment for previous (and alleged) attacks and in open violation of international law.

According to some, this escalation can be linked to the lack of pressure from the White House on the Israeli Prime Minister to recognise Palestinian rights, which are now in the background. A report released at the beginning of the year by B'Tselem experts, in the front line in denouncing Israeli occupation policies, reported 295 Palestinian homes destroyed in 2021, leaving 895 people homeless, including 463 minors. In a climate, Ms Buttu concludes, that seems to increasingly legitimise the demolition of homes. 

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