Orders of eviction within 5 weeks for 45 Palestinians in Batan Al-Hawa

The delivery person from the Execution Office arrived today accompanied by two policemen to the Shweiki family home and the Duweik family home in Batan Al-Hawa in Silwan and gave them an eviction order:

“You must vacate the property within 20 days from the date of delivery of this warning … If you do not comply with the provisions of the judgment, the judge of Execution Office will order the eviction of the property in one of the 14 days after the end of this period.”

This means that if there is no other decision and if the government does not stop the evacuation, 45 Palestinians, including small children, will be thrown into the street within five weeks, by January 3, 2021.

Just a week has passed since the Jerusalem district court dismissed the families’ appeal, and their attorneys have not yet had time to file an appeal and a request to halt the eviction to the Supreme Court. But the settlers from Ateret Cohanim, who demanded the eviction, hurried to start enforcement proceedings. There is no doubt that their intention is to evict the families before the change of administration in the United States on January 20, 2021.

Following the dismissal of an appeal in the District Court, the appeal to the Supreme Court is not automatic. A Supreme Court judge must approve the hearing of the appeal. The families intend to submit a request to appeal and a request to delay the eviction until a decision is made on the matter. The Supreme Court can decide, even immediately as soon as the request is received, its rejection, or allow the appeal to be heard and the halt of the eviction until a decision is made, which can take several months.

Peace Now: “The Israeli government can prevent this eviction. In the first stage, it can avoid sending the police to evict the families. This is not only a moral obligation to the Palestinian residents who are about to be thrown out of their homes for no fault of their own, but it is also a political obligation to maintain the delicate fabric of Jerusalem and the chance for peace and a two-state solution. The Palestinian families who legally purchased their homes fell victim to a discriminatory law according to which Jews have the right to return to pre-1948 properties while Palestinians have no such right, and to the cruel exploitation of this law by settlers seeking to evict an entire community from East Jerusalem and settle Jews in its place.

The meaning of the Execution Procedure – Under Israeli law, in the event that a judgment is not executed (e.g. after the court has ruled that one party must vacate property or pay the other party), the winning party can apply to the Execution Office, which is a kind of court, and demand the enforcement of the verdict. In the event of an eviction judgment, the judge of the Execution Office shall appoint a contractor to carry out the eviction, and set a date for eviction. The contractor coordinates the evacuation with the police who should assist in carrying out the eviction. Payment of evacuation expenses is borne by those who refused to evacuate, including payment for police assistance. This means that in the Batan Al-Hawa, if the families do not voluntarily evacuate, they will be evacuated by force, with the assistance of police officers, and then the payment of the evacuation expenses (estimated at NIS 100,000) will be imposed on them.

The matter is not legal but political; the government can stop the eviction

The settlers have an interest in presenting the issue as a purely legal matter, of two parties arguing over ownership of the property and the court deciding. But denial and blindfolding are needed to ignore the context and mechanism established to exploit discriminatory law for the purpose of realizing settlement political goals. This is a political issue with far-reaching implications for the entire State of Israel and the future of the conflict, and the court is only the tool to implement the move. Therefore, the Israeli government has a responsibility and an obligation to intervene.

  1. The immediate way to prevent eviction is to avoid sending the police to assist in evacuation. Without the police, people cannot be evicted from their homes. It is the police who determine the appropriate timing for carrying out various tasks in accordance with the security situation and considerations of public peace. The police can determine that for now, for reasons of security and public safety, the evacuation should be avoided. Such a position has been taken in the past and obtained the approval of the Attorney General (in 1991 when the police prevented the Elad settlers from entering houses in Silwan, and in 1999 in an Attorney General opinion on a property in Ras Al-Amud).
  1. The government can expropriate the land – the government can expropriate the land for public purposes (while compensating the settlers). Since 1967, the Israeli government has expropriated about a third of East Jerusalem to build 55,000 housing units for Israelis. What was done for the benefit of the Israeli public with the expropriation of more than 20,000 dunams, can be done for the benefit of the Palestinian residents of Batan Al-Hawa with the expropriation of 5 dunams.
  1. Change in legislation and policy – the Knesset can correct the injustice caused as a result of the discriminatory law by amending or repealing the relevant sections of the Legal and Administrative Matters Law (1970) on the basis of which all these eviction claims were filed.