Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday postponed a hearing on the possible eviction of several Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem and will set a new date within 30 days.
The Supreme Court said the hearing, which was supposed to take place Monday, was canceled at the request of the State Attorney General.
Last week, the court said it would hear an appeal by the Palestinian families against their eviction from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, in the latest development in a decades-long legal case.
A pro-settler organization called Nahalat Shimon is using a 1970 law to argue that the owners of the land before 1948 were Jewish families, and so the current Palestinian landowners should be evicted and their properties given to Israeli Jews.
Palestinians say restitution laws in Israel are unfair because they have no legal means to reclaim property they lost to Jewish families in the late 1940s in what became the state of Israel.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday the law is “applied in an inherently discriminatory manner,” adding that the transfer of Israeli civilians onto occupied land could be “prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime.”
The situation in Sheikh Jarrah has become a main flashpoint amid rising tensions in Jerusalem. Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians for several days, with Palestinians accusing Israeli settlers of provoking the confrontations.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that at least 100 Palestinians were injured during unrest on Saturday evening at various locations across Jerusalem, including Sheik Jarrah, Damascus Gate and the Al Aqsa mosque compound.
In a statement on Saturday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry called the situation in Sheikh Jarrah a “real-estate dispute.”
“Regrettably, the PA and Palestinian terror groups are presenting a real-estate dispute between private parties, as a nationalistic cause, in order to incite violence in Jerusalem,” the ministry said.
Palestinian leaders and institutions, including the Palestine National Council, have described the evictions of Palestinian residents from their East Jerusalem homes as “ethnic cleansing” aimed at “Judaizing the holy city,” according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.
Most of the international community regards East Jerusalem as occupied territory, and Palestinians see it as the capital of a future state. Israel wants to keep the city united as part of its sovereign territory, rejecting the idea that any part of it is occupied.
The situation in Sheikh Jarrah has drawn worldwide attention, with the US State Department expressing concern over the weekend.
“We are also deeply concerned about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of Jerusalem, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations,” spokesperson Ned Price said. “As we have consistently said, it is critical to avoid steps that exacerbate tensions or take us farther away from peace. This includes evictions in East Jerusalem, settlement activity, home demolitions, and acts of terrorism.”