Renowned Palestinian activist and writer Mohammed El-Kurd has slammed an Israeli court offer to delay the eviction of families from Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, which was rejected by the Palestinians on Tuesday.
El-Kurd, whose family is among four to face forced displacement from their homes in the occupied East Jerusalem, said the Israeli court deal created “an illusion of choice” when the options given are “oppressive” towards the affected families.
“They are making us choose between an agreement that is outrageously oppressive or being thrown onto the streets,” El-Kurd said in comments to The New Arab Voice.
The proposal floated by Israel’s Supreme Court last month offered to make the four Palestinian families “protected tenants”, if they attest to Jewish settler’s ownership of their homes.
The families would be required to pay rent to the settlers and treat them as their landlords.
“The Israeli Supreme Court is clearly under immense pressure from international media and diplomats,” El-Kurd said. “So, they are evading their responsibility of issuing a verdict by throwing the ball in our court and creating this illusion that we have a choice, when really there’s no choice at all here.
“Today, we were very clearly in our statement and responded officially to the court by saying we are not going to commit someone else’s crime for them,” he said. “If you are going to evict us and throw us out, then you should do so yourself.”
The Palestinian families, who are originally from what is now Israel, say the Jordanian government granted them the land on which their homes were later built in exchange for their refugee status after it assumed control of the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1948. They have been living there ever since.
Jewish settlers have been making use of an Israeli law that allows them to claim properties that were owned by Jews years prior to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. Meanwhile, Palestinians who lost homes, properties and lands in the same conflict do not have the right to recover them.
Israel has portrayed the matter as a private real-estate dispute, but the Palestinians and human rights groups view it as a coordinated attempt to push Palestinian residents out of Jerusalem and change the city’s identity.
“We are today reaching the [peak of] the weaponisation of the law and of the judiciary, and the exploitation of clearly asymmetrical laws, built by settlers to protect settlers and to displace Palestinians,” El-Kurd said.
“Truly, at the core of it all is a microcosm of Israeli settler colonialism and a microcosm of ethnic cleansing, particularly in Jerusalem,” he added.
The US has spoken out against the evictions, saying it undermines efforts to eventually revive the long-dormant peace process.
“It is our hope that the international community, particularly international actors who have constantly called out the crimes of settler expansions and called the forced expulsion in our neighbourhood a ‘war crime’, that they really act on it, and stop this tradition of meeting Israeli crimes with impunity and inaction, but rather have real political repercussions,” El-Kurd said.
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