Lawyer Khaleda Zabarka to Al-Jazeera Net: The Israeli court is in trouble after the people of Sheikh Al-Jarrah refused to settle, and these are its options in the case

The lawyer expert in Jerusalem issues says that the only settlement that the residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood can accept is the Supreme Court’s announcement that the current situation will be frozen as it is without deciding on the issue of ownership, nor asking residents to pay rents to settlers.

Occupied Jerusalem- Since the residents of the “Karam al-Jaouni” neighborhood in the Sheikh Jarrah area of ​​occupied Jerusalem presented their response a few days ago by rejecting the settlement proposed by the Israeli Supreme Court, questions have increased about the expected scenarios in the judicial process of the case in the coming days.

The proposed settlement included deeming the residents of the neighborhood as “protected tenants” of the settlement association called “Nahalat Shimon”, and paves the way for the gradual confiscation of their right to their lands.

The lawyer specializing in Jerusalem cases, Khaled Zabarka, stressed in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera Net, the importance of continuing to advocate for the residents of the neighborhood threatened with eviction and eviction in favor of the settlers, warning against accepting any new settlements proposed by the court, which may lead to upsetting the strong legal position of the residents before the Israeli judiciary.

Here is the text of the dialogue with Lawyer Zabarka, who began by talking about the options before the Israeli Supreme Court at the present time:

A banner calling for continued support for the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and stressing the steadfastness of its families (Al-Jazeera)

After the residents of “Sheikh Jarrah” unanimously rejected the settlement, which considers them “protected tenants” of a settlement association, what are the options before the Israeli court now?

The Supreme Court will have 4 options in the coming days; The first is setting a new session to hear the pleadings of the lawyers from the two parties, or proposing another amended settlement, or requesting a summary of the parties’ previous pleadings. The last option is to issue a decision based on the pleadings available to it in the file of the appeal request submitted by Sheikh Jarrah’s families against the two decisions issued by the Magistrate and Central Courts to evict.

Does the Supreme Court have enough courage to ignore the decisions issued by its predecessors to evacuate the residents of the neighborhood, and to take decisions in their favour?

The space for the Israeli Supreme Court to intervene is now very narrow towards accepting the appeal submitted by the families, and ordering the annulment of their eviction. It contradicts what was issued by the previous courts, because the court’s considerations now are not purely legal considerations, but rather take into account the Jews’ view of it in the event that it issues a decision in the interest of the Arabs. It also warns of the reactions that will result from rejecting the appeal and granting the settlers the right to own the land, and the consequences of this decision at the regional and international levels.

In light of this, can we say that the Israeli Supreme Court is in a real predicament now?

Indeed, the highest judicial authority in Israel was placed in a real impasse, and it hoped that the two sides would accept the settlement proposal in order to come out with the least losses.

Those who manage the case of Sheikh Jarrah on the Israeli side are the hardened settlers who are inciting riots in Bab al-Amud, and they are also the ones working to Judaize the Islamic Yusufiya cemetery in Jerusalem, and they are the ones who attack Palestinian farmers on their lands.

They belong to an influential political party and pose a threat to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. Thus, the latter counts these as an account and tries not to reach decisions against them, especially in the crucial files.

Why did the settlers also refuse the settlement, even though it paves the way for the gradual confiscation of the right of the people to their lands in Sheikh Jarrah?

The settlers deal with the file from a political, not legal, viewpoint. They do not want there to be any doubt about their right to land ownership.

They are based on the decisions of the Magistrate’s Courts and the Central Courts, which were in their favour, by issuing eviction orders, and this is what they were waiting for from the Supreme Court. But the latter proposed a settlement, and they were waiting for it to respond to the residents’ appeal and to issue a decision to immediately evict them in their favour.

According to the legal procedures, the residents of Sheikh Jarrah presented evidence that the documents submitted by the settlement associations were inaccurate. The submitted identification papers are supposed to obligate the Israeli judiciary to take a decision in the interest of the residents, but the legal procedures are proceeding according to the interests of the settlers.

So, the extremist settlers are not only waiting for decisions from the Israeli courts to support them, but also to take other steps to deprive the Palestinians of their rights through the judicial system?

True, if we were before a fair and impartial judicial body that enjoys the recognized judicial bases, I would immediately say that Sheikh Jarrah’s case has been settled in favor of the Palestinian refugee residents of the neighborhood, but the Israeli judiciary is not.

This apparatus has many considerations other than restoring rights to their owners, the most prominent of which is the Jews’ view of the legitimacy of this court, especially since Israeli society is turning more towards the right and extremism.

We can say that it is the Israeli courts that give legitimacy to the occupation crimes in all Palestinian cases. Everyone should understand well that the legitimacy of the courts, especially the “highest” ones, is in trouble at the regional and international levels. Therefore, it is important to continue activating international pressure on the Israeli occupation, as well as the continuation of the popular movement supporting the cause of Sheikh Jarrah.

The case of Sheikh Jarrah before the Israeli Supreme Court to decide the fate of hundreds of Palestinians from the neighborhood (Al-Jazeera)

As long as you mentioned the importance of interacting with him, what is the danger of apathy or retreat from the support and advocacy of the people of Sheikh Jarrah?

The real danger is that the Israeli Supreme Court depends in its decisions on the intelligence reports it receives, and therefore waits for the appropriate situation and time in order to issue a final decision on the file before it.

The longer the case of Sheikh Jarrah remains alive and present, the more pressure will be placed on the Supreme Court, and the escalation of popular support for the population will motivate the international community and international organizations that will push for delaying or preventing the eviction.

I said that one of the options is to issue a final decision to evacuate the residents from the neighborhood. If that happens, do you think it will be soon, or will we witness a repetition of the Khan al-Ahmar scenario, which the Israeli government has requested to postpone its implementation until now?

I see that the decision of the Supreme Court to evict or the decision to carry out the eviction depends on the extent of the interaction, whether local or international, with the case of Sheikh Jarrah, and today the only guarantor to prevent Israeli abuse and infringement on the rights of the Palestinians is not the Supreme Court or Israeli law, but rather the mass action and the international community supporting these issues. And this depends on the movement on the ground mainly.

If the people agree to any future settlement, what is the danger of this to similar eviction issues in the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan and elsewhere?

Be wary of any proposal coming from the court, because any loss may extend to other neighborhoods threatened with eviction. Every decision or approach issued by Jerusalemites in crucial cases will be relied upon by the courts in similar cases.

Sheikh Jarrah is not only the issue of the families who live in the neighborhood, but the issue of all Jerusalemites who pay the price for their steadfastness in the city, and therefore it is not permissible to be alone in making fateful decisions, because they have consequences for all other issues.

The war is now focused on the Palestinian awareness to transform it from a mind that resists the occupation on a moral level to a mind that accepts the occupation and its practices.

Sheikh Jarrah, men and youth of the neighborhood gather in the street to monitor the movements of settlers (Al-Jazeera Net)The steadfastness of the people of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the Palestinian and international solidarity with them made their expulsion (Al-Jazeera) fail.

Finally, what is the only appropriate settlement for the people of Sheikh Jarrah, since one of the options presented is to propose another, amended settlement?

No settlement that recognizes in one way or another the right of settlement associations to land ownership should be approved. The only settlement that the residents can accept is the Supreme Court’s declaration that the current situation is frozen as it is, without deciding either on the issue of ownership or asking the residents to pay rent to the settlers.

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