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Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah handed to Israeli settlers in compromise offer that entrenches apartheid

ISRAEL’S Supreme Court offered Palestinian families in the district of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem so-called “protected status” today, preventing forced expulsion but failing to give them ownership of their homes.

Under the deal, the four Palestinian families who appeared in court would be required to pay rent to Israeli settler organisation Nahalat Shimon, stripping them of ownership of the homes they have lived in since they were driven off their land when the state of Israel was created in 1948.

The protected-status offer, which the families are believed to have rejected, means that they could not be forcibly removed from their homes for years — but would make them mere tenants of buildings they bought years ago.

Journalist Abraham Gutman said that the offer hands ownership of the Palestinian homes to Nahalat Shimon and “sets a clear precedent that any historic claim of Jews is superior to any claim of Palestinians.

“This is not a compromise. It is codifying apartheid,” he said.

Sheikh Jarrah was the focus of Palestinian resistance earlier this year, with mass protests there in opposition to ethnic cleansing operations by Israeli authorities.

Eight homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood were earmarked for transfer to Israeli settlers who claimed to have owned the land prior to 1948. 

While the Israeli courts treated the matter as a simple property dispute, it was seen by Palestinians as symbolic of the illegal occupation and attempted obliteration of its people.

Israeli security services responded forcefully to the protests, while far-right settlers attacked Palestinians who were defending their land.

Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas, the Islamist organisation that governs the besieged Gaza Strip, called on all forces to rally to the defence of Sheikh Jarrah.

Soon after the protests, Israel launched its brutal 11-day bombardment of Gaza, in which more than 260 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed.

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