The Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR) condemns the ongoing exploitation of the Israeli Supreme Court in the service of settlement projects in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in general and in occupied East Jerusalem in particular and the Court’s issuance of decisions that violate the rules of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
The latest of these decisions was rejecting the petition filed by dozens of Palestinian civilians living in “Batn al-Hawa” neighborhood in Silwan village, south of the occupied Jerusalem. Their petition was to request overturning the decision by the Custodian of Absentee Property that orders the resident to evacuate their houses and hand them to “Ateret Cohanim” Settlement Association.
According to PCHR’s investigations, on Wednesday afternoon, 21 November 2018, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the petition filed by the residents of Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan village, south of the occupied East Jerusalem, and allowed “Ateret Cohanim” settlement association to continue its procedures relevant to expelling 700 Palestinians and forcing them to pay hundred thousands of shekels, claiming to compensate settlers for the costs of the legal proceedings and house rents for all the years. It should be noted that the residents of Batn al-Hawa neighborhood had submitted a petition against the decision of the Administrator General (Custodian of Absentee Property) to hand a plot of land in the abovementioned neighborhood that had been owned by Jews until 1948, but which is today home to 700 Palestinians,over to three members ofAteret Cohanim. The latter association, which is very active in creating a Jewish Majority in occupied Jerusalem, filed a request to expel the Palestinian families with the help of the Israeli Justice Ministry’s administrator general to take over the area and buildings established there, claiming they belong to Jews, and to hand 70 Palestinian families judicial notices in this regard.
On Wednesday afternoon, The Supreme Court’s Judges (Daphne Barak-Erez and Barron Valron) rejected a petition filed by 104 Palestinian civilians from Batn al-Hawa neighborhood against the 2009 decision by the General Custodian of Absentee Property to “free the land on which they have lived for decades.” After Judge Erez first rejected the request by the settlers to dismiss the petition, she later detailed a series of flaws in the administrator general’s conduct of transferring the land to Ateret Cohanim without even bothering to inform the residents who had lived there for decades. The judge emphasized that the general administrator never investigated whether the land’s legal classification under the laws of the Ottoman Empire and even allowed the land to be turned over.
Only inthe final stages of the legal process did the State start looking into this complex question that is still with no definitive answer to it. Yet despite all these problems, she decided that the High Court is the wrong place to investigate these factual arguments, and that the problems didn’t stem from the way the administrator acted, but rather “lie in the statutory arrangement.” Therefore, she rejected the petition. As a result, the dozens of suits Ateret Cohanim has filed to evict 70 Palestinian families will be resumed in the coming weeks.
The Israeli media has referred to a number of decisions issued recently by the Israeli Supreme Court in which they indicate ” there is a radical change in its policies”, under the auspices of the Israeli Justice Minister, “Ayelet Shaked”, which was described by the media as “Lady of the Coup in the Supreme Court, aprticuarlty when it comes to Palestinians’ rihgts”. Among these latest decisions was the rejection of the Supreme Court’s Judges of an appeal filed by Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood against their expulsion from their homes. It should be noted that on Monday, 19 November 2018, the Israeli Knesset approved in the second and third readings the construction of residential units and houses in the national and public parks, which means the expansion of settlement of “Ir David” settlement in Silwan village that is considered one of the areas most targeted by the Israeli settlers and Government.
PCHR condemns these decisions and emphasizes its violation of the rules of the international humanitarian law and the international human rights law. PCHR calls upon the international community and UN bodies to stop the Israeli escalating crimes and violations and work on providing international protection for Palestinians in the oPt. PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.