Another Jewish family Tuesday ignored U.S. President Barack Obama’s declaration that Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem are “illegitimate settlements.” The family moved into their new home in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood, after the High Court ruled that land is owned by Jews. However, an Arab family remains in a part of the multi-unit building.
President Obama has called on Israel to stop Jews from moving into eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods and to halt all construction for Jews. Official U.S. government policy considers eastern Jerusalem to be “occupied,” but officials have not commented about another 300,000 Jews who live in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in the city that were restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.
Twenty-eight properties in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood are registered in the name of the Sephardic Community Committee but fell into Arab hands during the War for Independence in 1948. United Nations, Jordanian government personnel and Arab families have been squatting in some of the homes since the war and have remained there after the Six-Day War. They claim to own the properties.
The court determined more than 35 years ago that the Sephardic community is the legal owner of the land, but the judges allowed the Arabs to remain there as legal squatters. However, they have refused to pay rent, and long legal battles recently have concluded with their eviction.
Police escorted the new family into their home on Tuesday even though one Arab family refuses to move out, despite the court approval for the Jewish family to take over the property. Police are at the scene to prevent a confrontation by protesting Arabs and pro-Arab groups and are trying to convince the Arab family to leave peacefully.
Pro-Arab sympathizers last week packed up their protest tent, where they have been demonstrating for several weeks opposite the Jewish neighborhood.