Israel’s Attorney General has told the Supreme Court that he will not interfere in the scandalous Sheikh Arrah case, when four Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem are expected to be forcibly deported for the benefit of Israeli settlements.
In a statement issued Monday, Avichai Mendelblit said there was “no room for him” to intervene in the trial.
Last month, the Supreme Court gave the Attorney General until June 8 to present his legal opinion on the case.
In a letter to the court, Mendelblit writes that, given the many legal proceedings that have taken place over the years in the Sheikh Arrrah district, he has concluded that there is no need for him to appear in court.
The Attorney General’s decision leaves the Supreme Court free to hear four Palestinian families appealing against two lower court rulings that they must leave their homes.
The four families are part of a group of more than 500 Palestinians from 28 families facing the crisis.
Sami Irsheid, a lawyer who is part of the defense team of Sheikh Arra residents who are threatened with deportation, told Al Jazeera that Mendelblit’s decision does not mean the case is no longer political.
“The Prosecutor General’s response was short, in which he said he did not think there was a need for his intervention, as this was a legal matter,” Irsheid said. “But we will not back down from arguing the matter in terms of international law.”
According to: Israeli “Haaretz” dailyA source close to Mendelblit said that the Israeli political leadership supported the decision of the state to refrain from arguing in court.
Haaretz also reported that officials at Mendelblit’s office said that the case of Sheikh Arrrah’s families was weak and that “his legal opinion could not prevent their impending eviction”.
Displacement of Sheikh Arrah families
The statement from Sheikh Arrah’s families rejected Mendelbit’s explanation for not intervening, saying that their case was not a legal one but a matter of forced eviction.
“We affirm that the Israeli occupation government, in all its spheres, from the prime minister to all Israeli institutions, seeks to displace the residents of the Sheikh Arrah district, thus perpetuating the crime of Israeli residence in East Jerusalem.” He said on social media.
“In turn, we affirm that this crime violates all international conventions – human rights, we affirm that these attempts will not weaken our will to endure in our countries.”
The refusal of the Attorney General to comment on Sheikh Arra is another invalid attempt to define our deportations as a “property dispute.”
The facts say otherwise. Deportation is a war crime, the Israeli occupation has no legal authority over us under international law. # Save the Sheikh ar array
– Muhammad Al-Kurd (@ m7mdkurd) June 7, 2021
Ershad said the ball is now in the corner of the court.
“The Supreme Court must decide whether he wants to hear from the Prosecutor General or be satisfied with the case,” he told Al aze Azira.
The court is expected to rule in favor of Israeli resettlement organizations, but Irsheid said he did not agree that Mendelblit’s decision would affect the speed of the court’s decision.
“At the end of the day, his decision is a continuation of the same political approach taken by the state of Israel over the past 20 years, where they have tried to turn the case of Sheikh Arra into a legal dispute between the two sides,” he said. he said.
According to Al Jazeera correspondent Mohamed Watadi, Mendelblit’s position is seen as a way to absolve Israel of any legal responsibility if the case of Sheikh Arrah is sent to the International Criminal Court.
“It’s a lifeline for the Israeli government from any international pressure to present the case as a clash between a group of settlers, a group of Palestinians, that the court’s decision was made after exhausting the court in accordance with Israeli demands. “He called it democratic procedures,” he said.
Israeli human rights groups have condemned the Attorney General’s decision, calling it a “cynical attempt to evade responsibility.”
The group called on Israel to “present its position to the public, to the courts, as families take to the streets, using a number of laws that discriminate between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Another Israeli human rights group, Ir Amim, said the attorney general’s decision “paves the way for deportations” and could affect the cases of more than 80 other families threatened with forced deportation.
“There is still room for political interference,” said Amy Cohen.
Sheikh Arra’s case has attracted international attention and caused outrage from all over the world. Twenty-eight Palestinian families have lived in their resettlement homes since 1956, built under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which ruled East Jerusalem until 1967.
Settlement organizations filed a lawsuit in 1972 accusing them of owning the lands of Sheikh Arrara after they entered into an Israeli law allowing Jews to take back former Jewish property they had lost during the 1948 founding of Israel. A right denied to the Palestinians.
An Israeli court ruling on the impending forced eviction of four Palestinian families was postponed in May following daily protests and sit-ins, in which Israeli forces forcibly dispersed tear gas, sound bombs and rubber bullets.
During the holy month of Ramadan, Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, several times, escalating the situation, injuring hundreds of Palestinians.
Armed groups fired rockets from the Gaza Strip, to which Israel responded with a devastating 11-day offensive that killed at least 260 Palestinians, 66 of them children. The Israeli side also killed 12 people, including two children.