At issue: Israeli government wants to buy some homes in occupied East Jerusalem

MADISON, Wis. – Families in Sheikh Jarrah who have been facing threats of forced eviction Tuesday reacted angrily to an Israeli court proposal to change their planning district in an effort to resolve a lengthy court case.

Israel’s High Court has been weighing whether an international donor trust can buy a large chunk of Sheikh Jarrah. The trust has been trying to buy the 86 properties in the neighborhood without the residents’ consent, according to The Times of Israel.

The situation has caused many Palestinians and Israelis to live under siege in the neighborhood.

However, after years of delay, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein issued a ruling on Tuesday, turning down the trust’s petition to evict the residents, but rather offering to come up with an alternate solution to acquire the properties.

Along with the governmental buildings, Sheikh Jarrah is home to the Sheikh Jarrah Palestinian Authority headquarters, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Palestinian Ministry of Finance and the Palestinian Central Bank.

None of these buildings have ever been vandalized or destroyed by Palestinians, and that evidence was submitted during the arbitration hearings, but the new plan calls for the community to be separated, and that would destroy much of the Palestinian presence in the neighborhood.

Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah were aware of the government’s plans to buy the homes, and has not agreed to sell them. According to the High Court, though, the families do not have to do so in order to prevent the government from forcibly evicting them.

In a statement, the Abu Ramieh family said, “We will not be forced to leave our homes with no notice and with no security. All of us here know there is no way that Palestinian families in our neighborhood will leave with no notice and no notice of security.”

Members of the Sheikh Jarrah Front Against Eviction said they are considering legal action.

“Those who claim that we just sit around and wait for the police to come and carry us out, that does not happen. There are a large number of police in our neighborhood every day and we can see them all around us,” said Mahmoud Abu Rehbeh, a spokesman for the Sheikh Jarrah Front Against Eviction.

Abu Rehbeh said they are hoping the ruling will put a stop to the government’s plans to forcibly move the families out of their homes.

“After years and years of waiting, it is completely unacceptable that we have been forced to choose between our homes and our lives,” he said.

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