Palestinian family evicted from eastern Jerusalem home to make way for pre-1948 Jewish owners

JERUSALEM (JTA) – A Palestinian family was evicted from its eastern Jerusalem home of more than 50 years to restore the property to the Jewish family that owned it prior to 1948.

In the first such eviction since 2009, the eight members of the Shamesneh family, including an elderly couple in their 80s, were evicted early Tuesday morning and by the afternoon remained outside the home. Jewish tenants moved into the home in the Sheik Jarrah neighbourhood following the eviction, the French news agency AFP reported.

Under Israeli law, Jews who can prove that their families lived on property in eastern Jerusalem before the 1948 War for Independence can ask Israel’s general custodian office to release the property and return them to ownership. Thousands of Jewish families fled Jerusalem during the war when Jordanian forces took over the city.

In 2013, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the rulings of lower courts in restoring ownership rights to the Jewish former owners who sold the property to other Jews through the Israel Land Fund, a pro-settler organization. The court ordered the eviction of the Shamasneh family to be deferred, however, noting the elderly residents of the home. The family had recently received an eviction order following renewed legal proceedings.

“Settlers are already inside the Shamasneh family’s home,” Peace Now said in a statement. “The settlers, with the backing of the government, are utilizing a discriminatory law in order to change the status quo and Israelize Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. The eviction of the Shamasneh family, who resided in the house since 1964, is not only brutal but it is also indicating a dangerous trend that could threaten a future compromise in Jerusalem.”

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