KKL legal pressure forces Sumarin family to dole out NIS 30,000 just to remain in their home

On 10 December 2019, the Jerusalem District Court decided to delay the eviction of the Sumarin family from their home in Silwan until hearing the appeal it filed against the eviction, but ruled that for this purpose the family would have to deposit NIS 30,000 in court fees. The court also held that while the eviction of the family from the house would be delayed, the payment of court fees and usage fees of NIS 59,000 would not be delayed. That way, the family will have to pay close to NIS 100,000 even before being given the chance to state its case in the court of appeals.

Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael (KKL), through its Himanuta subsidiary company, has been demanding the removal of the Palestinian Sumarin family from its home in Silwan since 1991, and although it lost several times in court, it continues to try and remove the family from its home. The basis for the lawsuit is the systematic and dubious use of Absentee Property Law to take over Palestinian properties in Silwan and to transfer them to settlers. This seizure method, which enabled KKL to acquire around 15 properties in Silwan, was investigated by a government inquiry committee (“Klugman Committee“), and even led to a criminal investigation – yet KKL did not relinquish the properties and continues to insist on sue the Palestinian families out of there homes by undertaking legal proceedings.

On 20 September 2019, after nearly 30 years of legal battles, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that the Sumarin family should vacate its home within 90 days and must pay NIS 59,000 legal fees and property use fees. The Sumarin family filed an appeal and sought to delay the execution of the judgment until after hearing the appeal. Although in such cases of eviction of families from a house they were born in, it is customary to delay eviction pending appeal, KKL has opposed to wait several months to hear the appeal and has demanded that the court reject the delay, or at least charge the Sumarin family with a deposit guaranteeing the “losses” of KKL from the pending appeal.

As previously stated, following KKL’s objection, this week the district court ruled that the eviction would be delayed only on condition that the family pay a NIS 30,000 security deposit in the court’s coffers, and that the family would already pay the NIS 59,000 that was ruled in the magistrate’s court judgment. It is worth noting that in case the court decides to accept the appeal, the payment is likely to be canceled and the KKL will be required to return it to the family, but the judge nevertheless decided that the family should pay already at this stage.

Peace Now: “KKL’s opposition to delaying the court appeal and insisting on high payments is a cruel and inhumane behavior that suits a lucrative commercial company (or settler associations seeking to ransom and exhaust their rivals to surrender and leave their homes) rather than a nonprofit, which purports to represent the Jewish people. KKL is acting in an unscrupulous manner here as it plays a pivotal role in an abusive use of the Absentee Property Law on the basis of questionable evidence to take over Palestinian properties in Silwan and to destroy the delicate fabric of life in Jerusalem.”