Settlers Take Over Three Apartments in Silwan, East Jerusalem

A large police force yesterday evacuated three Palestinian families from their homes in favor of the Elad settler organization. Elad, which claims to have bought the house from its owners, took advantage of the bankruptcy process in which it scored a easy legal victory in the purchase from the purported property owner. The Ruweidi family, which owns the homes, appealed the decision, but the eviction was carried out before the hearing on the appeal.

During the evacuation, the family managed to obtain a temporary order from the Supreme Court forbidding the evacuation, but the order was issued too late after the settlers, under police protection, managed to evacuate the entire building. Currently the settlers are occupying the building, have put down mattresses and a refrigerator, and are now being guarded by a police force outside the home.

Peace Now: “Elad is sending a reminder to President Trump that the embassy he plans to open in Jerusalem is in a divided city which has two separate capitals. Continued settlement in Silwan threatens the chances of ever achieving peace and compromise in Jerusalem.”

On February 22, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the Ruweidi family’s home belonged to Elad and that the family had to vacate the building. The decision was made as part of the bankruptcy proceedings of a resident of Silwan, who we will call Mr. Ruweidi, from whom the settlers claim to have purchased the building before he died. The court had to settle his debts, and decided to give the building to the settlers since they claim they bought the house from him. Because they agreed to pay an additional sum for the property, the house will be transferred to them.

The family claims that Mr. Ruweidi never sold the building, nor could he sell it because the house is jointly owned by him and all six of his brothers, who never sold their share. But the District Court dealt only with the question of debt settlement and bankruptcy, and did not discuss who the house belonged to in the first place before the sale. To prove the claim, the family will need submit a separate legal proceeding.

In addition, it turns out that one of the apartments that were evacuated had never belonged to Mr. Ruweidi in the first placed, nor did it belong to his brothers. Mr. Ruweidi’s son had resided in it, yet the ownership of the apartment belongs to another person who was never a party to these legal proceedings.

In the last two years, Elad has managed to take control of close to 10 additional properties in the Wadi Hilweh area in Silwan, and continues to use its economic power and political status to turn Silwan into a Jewish neighborhood. Such an outcome would jeopardize prospects for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem–one of the widely-accepted requisites for a two-state solution.