Palestinian families on Tuesday rejected an offer that would have delayed their eviction by Jewish settlers in a tense Jerusalem neighborhood, where protests and clashes helped ignite the 11-day Gaza war in May.
The four families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near the Old City said their decision springs from “our belief in the justice of our cause and our right to our homes and our homeland.” They said that rather than submit to an “unjust agreement” they would rely on the “Palestinian street” to raise international awareness of their plight.
The proposal floated by Israel’s Supreme Court last month would have made them “protected tenants,” blocking any eviction and demolition order for at least the next 15 years, according to Ir Amim, an Israeli rights group that closely follows developments in the city.
The families would have been able to continue arguing their case in Israeli courts. But it would have forced them to at least temporarily attest to the settlers’ ownership of the properties, which could weaken the families’ case going forward, and pay rent to the settlers.
The four families are among dozens in Jerusalem who are threatened with eviction by Jewish settler organizations in several cases that have been working their way through the Israeli court system for decades.
The settlers are making use of an Israeli law that allows them to claim properties that were owned by Jews prior to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. Palestinians who lost homes, properties and lands in the same conflict do not have the right to recover them.
There was no immediate comment from the settlers, but Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Arieh King, a staunch supporter, said they had accepted the offer.