On 10 March 2021, the Palestinian Human Rights Organization Council, compromising of 11 Palestinian human rights organizations, the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, the Community Action Center (Al-Quds University), and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies sent a joint urgent appeal to the United Nations (UN) Special Procedures on forced evictions in East Jerusalem. Addressing six UN Special Rapporteurs, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, the organization’s highlight forced evictions as part of Israel’s coercive environment in East Jerusalem, through which it maintains its institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people.
The appeal highlights how 15 Jerusalemite families totaling 37 households of around 195 Palestinians, residing in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni area in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and Batn Al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan, are currently at imminent risk of forced eviction. Unlawfully applying Israeli domestic law to the occupied territory, Israeli courts have ruled in favor of lawsuits undertaken by settler organizations to evict the 15 Palestinian families.
Acknowledging that most of the families living in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni area and Batn Al-Hawa neighborhood are refugees, the joint appeal outlines how Israel has ensured the maintenance of its apartheid regime over the Palestinian people through its policies and practices, such as the strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people, including by denying Palestinian refugees and other persons displaced their inalienable right to return, and the appropriation of their homes, lands, and property, coupled with the creation of a coercive environment designed to drive the ongoing transfer of Palestinians particularly in East Jerusalem.
Not only has Israel unlawfully extended its domestic civil legal system to occupied East Jerusalem, but it further proceeded to enact more discriminatory laws and policies that ensure the expansion of Israeli-Jewish presence in the city. In 1970, Israel enacted the Legal and Administrative Matters Law, which exclusively allows Israeli Jews to pursue claims to land and property ownership allegedly owned by Jews in East Jerusalem before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The appeal outlines how the 1970 discriminatory Law has facilitated the eviction orders by Israeli courts in favor of the settler organizations Nahalat Shimon International and Ateret Cohanim in Karm Al-Ja’ouni in Sheikh Jarrah and in Batn Al-Hawa in Silwan, respectively.
At a time when people around the world are trying to survive the global pandemic, Palestinians in East Jerusalem continue to endure an ongoing Nakba, as they continue to be denied their inalienable right of return to their homes, properties, and lands, and to be under threat of further displacement and dispossession. They undergo a lengthy, exhausting, and unaffordable legal struggle to challenge the eviction lawsuits filed against them by settler organizations before Israeli courts. Given the discriminatory and untransparent nature of the Israeli legal system, they are effectively denied access to the rule of law. Many Palestinians have already been forcibly evicted under the same background.
The organizations stress that as the global pandemic continues, the Israeli apartheid regime intensifies its forcible transfer measures and policies in East Jerusalem. The institutionalized impunity enjoyed by Israel sustains the continuation of the gross violations perpetrated against the Palestinian people as a whole including the ongoing Nakba. As such, the appeal urges the mandate holders to:
Recognize and declare that the laws and policies Israel have created, and continue to maintain, as an institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people as a whole, which amounts to the crime of apartheid;
Call on Israel to cease the unlawful application of its domestic laws and policies to illegally annexed East Jerusalem;
Call on Israel to immediately cease the court proceedings against the 15 Palestinian families who are under imminent threat of forced eviction, as well as the eviction orders placing the Jerusalemite people at risk of forced displacement, and to ensure the return of Palestinians evicted to their properties as restitution or compensating them for their loss where this is not possible;
Call on Israel to immediately repeal all laws it has enacted to further the Israeli policy of population transfer and achieve demographic goals in Jerusalem in violation of Palestinians’ fundamental rights, including their right to self-determination and right to return and reclaim their properties, including 1950 Absentees’ Property Law and the 1970 Legal and Administrative Matters Law;
Call on Israel to abide by the legal test set by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights if the eviction is exceptionally required;
Call on the international community to cooperate to bring to an end, including through coercive measures such as sanctions, Israel’s occupation, colonization, and apartheid regime, as well as the prolonged denial of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes, lands, and property, as mandated by international law;
Call on the international community to ensure international justice and accountability, including by supporting a full, thorough, and comprehensive investigation into the Situation in Palestine by the International Criminal Court; and
Call on the UN to ensure the fulfillment of various UN resolutions in relation to the inalienable right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and to restitution and compensation of their properties, as well as resolutions directed at altering the composition and character of Jerusalem.