Israel’s attorney general informed the Supreme Court on Monday he will not intervene in the high-profile eviction case before the court against Palestinian families of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem.
Officials in Avichai Mendelblit’s office say they believe the families’ case is too weak and that his legal opinion would not be able to prevent their pending eviction, Haaretz reported
A source close to Mendelblit told Haaretz that the political leadership backs the decision to refrain from arguing before the court on behalf of the occupation state.
In a statement, Mendeblit cited “a multiplicity of legal cases over the years” and “the factual and legal determinations” concerning the Sheikh Jarrah plots as a reason for his decision, claiming any arguments made by him in this case are unlikely to change its outcome.
Mendelblit’s statement now means the court isn’t expected to wait for any other material before ruling on the case.
Peace Now criticized Mendelblit’s decision in a statement, calling it “a cynical attempt to evade responsibility.” It called on the state “to present to the public and to the court its stance, as families are thrown out into the street by employing a set of laws that discriminates between Israelis and Palestinians.”
BREAKING NEWS: Israel's Attorney General has decided not to give his opinion in the Sheikh Jarrah cases. This means Israeli government is ridding itself of responsibility in matters of discriminatory laws and dispossessing hundreds of Palestinians #SaveSheikhJarrah pic.twitter.com/Kw6xBl0aTx
— Peace Now (@peacenowisrael) June 7, 2021
Last May, Mandelblit asked the court for a deferral of at least two weeks so he might weigh taking part in the case.
On Saturday, Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Benny Gantz are seeking to delay the court hearing on the pending eviction of Palestinian families.
Sheikh Jarrah has been cited as one of the most issues sparked attention and condemnation around the world, as several countries slammed Israeli occupation forces and settlers violence against Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and al-Aqsa Mosque, calling ‘Israel’ to cease evictions and violence, including the US, Egypt, Belgium, Russia, and Turkey.
“It is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace. This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism,” The US State Department said in a statement.
The US also urged both Palestinian and Israeli officials “to act decisively to deescalate tensions and bring a halt to the violence. It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif in word and in practice.”
Dozens of Palestinians are facing imminent eviction from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah, in a move to force them out and replace it entirely with an Israeli settlement.
The Israeli Supreme Court ruled at least six families must vacate their homes in Sheikh Jarrah last Sunday, despite living there for generations, to make way for a new Israeli settlement known as Shimon HaTsadiq.
However, the Court on Sunday gave the Palestinian families until Thursday to reach a deal with Israeli settlers regarding the ownership of their homes.
The deal proposed by the court requires the Palestinian families to pay the Israeli settlers to rent their homes until the current owners pass away and then assign the properties to the settlers, not to their heirs.
The families refused this proposal, considering it a recognition of the claimed demands of the settlers.
In February, the Court also rejected an appeal by four Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood against their eviction from their homes. The court upheld the eviction order, and it gave the four families until May 2 to implement the eviction decision.
The same court ruled seven other families should leave their homes by August 1.
The Court decided today to postpone the ruling regarding the eviction of the families till May 10.
The Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah told the Supreme Israeli Court today that no compromise has been reached with Israeli settlers concerning land and house ownership claims by the latter.
Sami Irsheid, the lawyer of Sheikh Jarrah families, said he had submitted to the court a notification that no agreement was made with the settlers concerning their alleged ownership claims, and said the families were waiting for the court’s ruling concerning the matter at any time today or later on.
He said the court will also look into another appeal request from three other families whose eviction is scheduled for July 1.
A plan for the settlement, consisting of 200 housing units on 18 dunums, has already been submitted to the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem.
In total, 58 people, including 17 children, are set to be forcibly displaced to make way for Israeli settlers.
In 1972, several Israeli settler organisations filed a lawsuit against the Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah, alleging the land originally belonged to Jews.
These groups, mostly funded by donors from the United States, have waged a relentless battle that resulted in the displacement of 43 Palestinians in 2002, as well as the Hanoun and Ghawi families in 2008 and the Shamasneh family in 2017.
Within the past days, the settlers and forces used violence by attacking and arresting several Palestinians demonstrating against Israel’s evictions of the families from their homes in the neighborhood.