Sheikh Jarrah expulsions 'will not be commanded by PM Bennett': source

Sheikh Jarrah expulsions 'will not be commanded by PM Bennett': source
The Bennett-tied insider suggested that Bennett might not seek to expel Palestinian residents from the Jerusalem suburb of Sheikh Jarrah.
3 min read
27 July, 2021
Naftali Bennett's view is said to be informed by the blowback over Sheikh Jarrah [SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL/AFP/Getty]

Israeli premier Naftali Bennett does not intend to expel Sheikh Jarrah's Palestinian locals given the blowback surrounding attempts earlier this year, according to a Jerusalem Post source with strong ties to the right-wing Yamina party leader.

The expulsions case against four Palestinian families in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood will be before the Israeli High Court of Justice on Monday, the Israeli paper said on Tuesday.

Decisions by subordinate courts have sided with the Nahalat Shimon group settlers aiming to take the homes of the Palestinians, who have lived there for decades after being made refugees during the Nakba.

Meaning "catastrophe" in Arabic, the Nakba of 1948 saw 700,000 or more Palestinians forced out with the creation of the Israeli state.

It is improbable that the High Court's ruling, which could permit the Palestinians' expulsion, will compel the government to go ahead or give a cut-off date for this, The Jerusalem Post's informant said.

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They explained the authorities are to use this to avoid an escalation of tensions in occupied Jerusalem.

Brutal Israeli suppression of protests in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Aqsa led to a war on Gaza, killing scores of Palestinian civilians and hundreds of Hamas rockets being fired into Israel. 

The insider also suggested not expelling the Sheikh Jarrah families will help Israel's government push back against those who say the expulsions were the root of what happened in Gaza in May.

That month, Israel launched a deadly 11-day bombing campaign on Gaza killing some 260 Palestinians, including dozens of children.

Meanwhile, Hamas and other factions in Gaza fired rockets at Israel, leading 13 to deaths there.

Despite the insider's comments on Sheikh Jarrah, they distinguished the neighbourhood from the West Bank Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar, saying the state authorities are not involved in court case for the East Jerusalem neighbourhood.

The Bennett administration now has until 14 September to provide its view on the far-right, settler-aligned Regavim group's request the High Court compel the expulsion of Khan Al-Ahmar to proceed.

There were 173 Palestinians residing in Khan Al-Ahmar in 2018, according to Israeli rights NGO B'Tselem.

They were forced from the Naqab desert in the years following the 1948 Nakba.

B'Tselem added that the motive for removing Palestinians from their Khan Al-Ahmar homes is to provide space for the growing nearby illegal settlement of Maale Adumim.

Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem: A history of dispossession
Click here to enlarge image (May 2021)

While Israelis are permitted under the Israeli legal system to assert ownership of Palestinian land, Palestinians are unable to do so on land Israelis reside on but which Palestinians say belongs to them.

In the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, there have been serious questions raised regarding the legal processes.

For instance, in 1982, a deal was concluded for 17 Palestinian families by their lawyer, who didn't confer with them, according to the Civil Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem.

As a result, they legally became "protected tenants" and not owners.

Israeli actions in Sheikh Jarrah have been widely condemned by the international community and rights organisations.

Rupert Colville, United Nations rights office spokesperson, said the displacement efforts in Sheikh Jarrah "may amount to war crimes".