Settlers target Jerusalem homes 22Nov11 November 22, 2011

Ma’an News Agency  -  21 November 2011

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settler organizations have been given the green light by the Israeli government to take over a number of central Jerusalem homes belonging to Palestinians, a presidential legal adviser said on Sunday.

Ahmad Ruweidi said the Israeli government had waited until the timing was right politically to implement court decisions evicting Palestinians from a number of homes near the Old City.

An eviction order for the Silwan house of the Sumarin family on Nov. 28 is the beginning of a campaign against Palestinian properties, he said in a press statement.

Their house, declared absentee property and transferred by the government to the Jewish National Fund subsidiary Himnuta in 1991, lies at the entrance of the East Jerusalem neighborhood and adjacent to the controversial Israeli-built City of David tourist site.

Himnuta’s takeover of the home will “dramatically change the character” of Silwan, Settlement Watch director at Israeli Peace Now organization Hagit Ofran warned in an article on the Huffington Post.

Ruweidi said the eviction would be followed by the takeover of houses belonging to the Palestinian Zalloum family in the Old City, which has also been deliberated by Israeli courts for decades.

Settlers groups will offer high prices for the properties, and raid the house with troops if families do not comply, he said.

The Israeli government helps transfer ownership of Palestinian homes to settler organizations, he explained.

Legal scholars say the the Absentee Property Law enables Jewish individuals or associations to claim rights to property allegedly owned prior to 1948, while not recognizing similar Palestinian claims.

Silwan families have lost a number of homes to demolitions and evictions by Israeli forces. Jewish settlers illegally built the seven-story building Beit Yonatan in Silwan, and a number of court orders decreeing its eviction have never been implemented.

Israel insists that Jerusalem is its “eternal and indivisible” capital, and annexed the city’s eastern sector after a 1967 war in a move never recognized by the international community.

For Palestinians, East Jerusalem is the capital of their promised state.

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