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Palestinian, Israeli, and foreign activists demonstrate in Sheikh Jarrah, March 19, 2021.


 Ahmad Gharabli /AFP via Getty Images


Advocate Hosni Abu Hussein: “We Prevented the Establishment of a Jewish Settlement in Sheikh Jarrah”


Advocate Hosni Abu Hussein of Jerusalem, together with advocate Sami Irsheid, represented the al-Daoudi, Dajani, and Hammad families of Sheikh Jarrah in Israel’s Supreme Court earlier this month, achieving a favorable outcome. We spoke with him on May 16, 2024, to hear his thoughts on the significance and future implications of the decision.

Jerusalem Story: When was the latest decision issued by the Israeli Supreme Court in favor of the Sheikh Jarrah families, and what are the names of these families?

Hosni Abu Hussein: On May 9, 2024, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision in favor of the al-Daoudi, Dajani, and Hammad families, overturning their expulsion from their homes located in the eastern part of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, known as Kerem al-Juni. We [previously] confirmed this decision in the Israeli Magistrate’s Court by arguing that no decision contrary to the Supreme Court’s [prior 2022] ruling [in the cases of four other families] can be issued according to the law. Therefore, the Magistrate’s Court judge accepted the argument and ruled against the expulsion of these families.

Prior to issuing the decision, a session was held at the Supreme Court on March 11, 2024, during which the judges heard both sides. We argued that three Supreme Court judges had issued a 100-page decision on March 1, 2022, nullifying the expulsion orders of four previous families: Skafi, Jaouni, Qasim, and al-Kurd, and that this should also apply to the other families [i.e., the three involved in the current decision].

The Supreme Court accepted our viewpoint. Consequently, on May 9, 2024, a positive decision was issued regarding the three families, rendering the expulsion orders against them void and prohibiting settlers from further pursuing these families.

JS: What is the most significant accomplishment achieved by securing a favorable decision from the Supreme Court to halt the expulsion of the neighborhood’s homes in favor of settlers?

HAH: We prevented the establishment of a Jewish settlement in Sheikh Jarrah. There were plans to displace all residents of Kerem al-Juni to make way for the settlement project proposed by the Zionist settler organization Nahalat Shimon. The company had already submitted a master plan to the Jerusalem municipality, which was almost approved, to demolish and remove all Palestinian homes here to establish a settlement. Nahalat Shimon claims it bought the land from settler organizations.

JS: Do the two Supreme Court decisions in favor of the Sheikh Jarrah families pave the way for the reclamation of homes previously seized by settlers in the neighborhood, which belong to the Hannon, Ghaoui, and al-Kurd families?

HAH: At that time, I petitioned the Magistrate’s Court to cancel the expulsion orders issued against the homes of Maher Hannon and his two brothers, Ibrahim Ghaoui, and Mohammad Kamel al-Kurd.

During the sessions held in the Israeli Magistrate’s Court, the judge expressed a belief in the validity of my claim that these properties do not belong to the settlers. He subsequently called the head of the Jerusalem Police Center in the al-Moskobiyya building and told him that the police had already executed expulsion orders for these three family residences, now occupied by settlers. As a judge, he voiced doubt regarding the ownership of the land. He instructed the responsible police officer that if it is determined that these properties do not belong to the settlers but to the Sheikh Jarrah families (Ghaoui, al-Kurd, and Hannon), they should be allowed to return to their homes.

Abdel Fattah Skafi, a Palestinian Jerusalemite, at his home in Sheikh Jarrah
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“As a judge, he voiced doubt regarding the ownership of the land.”

Hosni Abu Hussein

This commitment is documented and filed in the court protocol. Once the land ownership is settled, proving that it does not belong to settlers, settler organizations, or the Nahalat Shimon company that claims it purchased the land, these families will return to their homes.

JS: Although the Israeli Supreme Court has issued decisions preventing the eviction of Sheikh Jarrah families, isn’t the issue of land ownership still unresolved?

HAH: Regarding land ownership, the Supreme Court does not have the authority to decide who the owner is. This authority lies with the Land Registration and Settlement department of the Israeli Ministry of Justice.

If it is announced that this land falls under “registration and settlement,” anyone claiming ownership can submit a request to the Director of the Registration and Settlement Office. In case of conflicting opinions, the settlement officer will transfer the file to the competent court, which is the Central Court, to decide who the owner is.

If the Central Court issues a decision against the neighborhood residents, they can appeal to the Supreme Court, as can the settlers. However, the matter of expelling residents has been conclusively settled, and currently, the expulsion of the Sheikh Jarrah families is prohibited.

Based on the information I have and the files we are currently working on, there are no pending expulsion decisions. However, we are presently working on the Diab family case, for whom an expulsion order was erroneously issued by the Magistrate’s Court approximately a month ago. We intend to appeal this order to the Central Court. In this instance, the Central Court will adhere to the Supreme Court’s decision and overturn the expulsion order. It is certain that the land in Sheikh Jarrah will be handed over to all 28 families residing in the neighborhood. These families were granted this land by the Jordanian government, and with the assistance of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA); they built their homes under the commitment from Jordan to transfer ownership to them.

Even if the land was previously held under the ownership of settler organizations [before 1948], this claim has been nullified by the successor sovereign power in East Jerusalem, the Jordanian government [1948–67]. Acting in accordance with international law, the Jordanian government expropriated the land and transferred ownership to the residents of Sheikh Jarrah. It’s worth noting that expulsion orders have been issued for 15 out of 28 families thus far.

JS: If both parties were to submit documents claiming ownership of the land, and the Central Court were to rule in favor of the settlers, what would the situation be then?

HAH: According to Israeli status law and decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court, once the Jordanian government expropriated the land of Kerem al-Juni in Sheikh Jarrah and transferred it to the neighborhood residents, any claims by settlers, settler organizations, or Jewish rabbis alleging ownership dating back to 1875 or asserting control in 1948 would no longer hold validity. Even if these claims were true, they were nullified by the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court, which is a certainty.

Jewish settlers stand in front of Palestinian houses they occupied in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, June 10, 2021.
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