A group of Palestinians in east Jerusalem have rejected a last-minute proposal put forward by Israeli security officials to relocate the family homes of many of them — including the families of well-known human rights lawyer Omar Barghouti and and prominent human rights activist Loai Nahari — to a district more than a mile from their homes, as the Wall Street Journal reports.
The families — most of them from the city’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood — have been living in the homes of Palestinians who fled war-torn Jerusalem over a century ago, in a most politically charged area of east Jerusalem that has become known for a controversial Israeli settler movement and is also home to thousands of Muslim citizens of Israel.
Israel considers Sheikh Jarrah to be part of the Old City of Jerusalem, and the settlers in the area claim that the homes of the family of one of the clan leaders of Sheikh Jarrah, Safi Jarrah, were illegally taken by a previous Israeli government over the years. A committee of Israeli security officials tasked with relocating the families now also agreed that in return for compensation for the settler forces’ expropriations, the families would have to consent to the move, an offer the Jarrah families have refused. They have also cited the expansion of Israel’s settlements in Sheikh Jarrah over the past decade, particularly the construction of the “E3” cluster of Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem, as evidence of Israel’s aggressive and aggressive tactics in getting these kinds of settlements in place. They were also concerned about the role played by the Israeli Prison Service in the subsequent land expropriations, which are currently pending a court decision on the question of whether the families of the settlers have been illegally taken.
The Barghouti family has been fighting an almost century-long legal battle to regain the home where her grandfather lived. The Dahmeny house is currently owned by both families, and is currently for sale. They now plan to fight for compensation and to keep their homes.
“The families are very serious,” Barghouti told the Wall Street Journal. “The families have been fighting for years and years. We are definitely fighting for the right thing. The Israeli agencies are not happy with this. And they’re treating it like a war. They want us to go peacefully and so is the government.”
And Barghouti also firmly rejected the proposal that the families would have to give up their legal claim to the homes, or the families would be evacuated.
“The demand that the Jarrah family relinquish a claim to the property can be unconstitutional and overbroad,” he said. “I would submit a cease-fire to the military occupation as soon as they start evacuating the citizens.”
This could be dangerous for any new agreement to be reached, as the military’s position is that the Arab families must leave or their homes will be demolished to make way for an Israeli neighborhood. The city government is also selling Sheikh Jarrah’s public spaces to settlers.
The dispute is also likely to provoke an angry Palestinian reaction against any new peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Read the full story on The Wall Street Journal.
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