Middle East, Europe

Halt evictions edict on Palestinian families: UN expert

UN special rapporteur says evictions of Palestinians from East Jerusalem follows pattern to change city's demography

Peter Kenny   | 11.01.2021
Halt evictions edict on Palestinian families: UN expert

GENEVA

A UN expert on Monday called on Israel to reverse eviction orders for Palestinian families living in occupied East Jerusalem, saying they are part of an “alarming pattern” to change the city's demography.

"These evictions are extremely alarming and appear part of a broader pattern of forcing Jerusalemite Palestinian families from their homes to clear the way for more illegal Israeli settlements," said Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory.

"Time is running short for these orders to be reversed."

The UN rapporteur's office noted that Israeli courts have upheld eviction orders to force 16 Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods over the last few months.

They include several extended families and two women raising children alone.

In most cases, the Palestinian families have lived in their homes for decades as owners or long-term tenants.

Wider plan

"The eviction orders are not random but appear to be strategically focused on an area in East Jerusalem known as the Historic Basin," Lynk said.

"They seem to be aimed at clearing the way for the establishment of more illegal Israeli settlements in the area and physically segregating and fragmenting East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank."

With the increase in evictions, home demolitions, and settlement expansion, historic Palestinian neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan are either gradually disappearing or are becoming surrounded and isolated by Israeli settlements, said the UN expert.

Applications by settler organizations for evictions have intensified, he said, citing reports by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that 877 people, including 391 children, are presently at risk of forced evictions because of such lawsuits.

Evictions in East Jerusalem have already affected hundreds of Palestinian families, especially in the Old City areas, Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan said in the report.

The most recent litigation has been initiated by settler organizations seeking to enforce provisions of an Israeli law, which allows Israeli Jews to start claims in East Jerusalem for properties that may have been owned by Jewish families before 1948.

Israeli law does not allow Palestinians to make similar claims for appropriated family-owned property in Israel.

The two Israeli organizations that have brought many of the eviction lawsuits, Nahalat Shimon and Ateret Cohanim, function as land ownership companies and settler associations.

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