June 16. 2021. 7:55

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Portugal Foreign Minister calls on ‘all parties’ to de-escalate the situation in Jerusalem

Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva: "Violence is the enemy of peace. We need all the moderates to try to take control of the situation and to avoid and combat any kind of violence."

The unrest continued in Jerusalem on Monday (10 May) with Arab riots on the Temple Mount and in the Old City. They hurled rocks and other objects at Israeli police who responded with stung grenades. In an effort to lower the flames in the city, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai had ordered earlier on Monday that Jewish worshipers be barred from entering the Temple Mount compound for the day.

“The Israel Police will continue to enable freedom of worship, but won’t allow disturbances,” the police said in a statement. On the last Friday evening of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (7 May), Palestinians threw rocks and bottles at Israeli police officers on the Temple Mount following Muslim prayers. 17 police officers were hurt and half were hospitalized, with one taking a rock to the head. Video from the scene showed pitched battles, with Palestinians throwing chairs, shoes, rocks and bottles, and shooting fireworks, while chanting “Allahu Akbar”, and police responding with stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Israel’s foreign ministry has issued a statement regarding the years-long land dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. “Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority 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 PA and Palestinian terror groups will bear full responsibility for the violence emanating from their actions,’’ the statement said.

On Sunday (9 May), Israel’s Supreme Court decided – at the request of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, to postpone a hearing on the possible eviction of several Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem and will set a new date within 30 days in the decades-long legal case. What is the Sheikh Jarrah legal dispute ? Sheikh Jarrah is an Arab neighborhood that developed outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in the 19th century. According to Israel’s Supreme Court, the land in question was purchased by the local Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities from its Arab owners in 1875, primarily because of the area’s religious significance in housing the tomb of “Simeon the Just”.

The property was registered in the Ottoman land registry as a trust under the name of rabbis Avraham Ashkenazi and Meir Auerbach. A small Jewish community lived there peacefully in co-existence with the local Arab community until 1948, when the War of Independence broke out. The Jewish owners had tried to register ownership of the property with the authorities of the British Mandate in 1946. When the War of Independence broke out in 1948, the Old City of Jerusalem and its surrounding area—including Sheikh Jarrah—was captured by Transjordan (now Jordan) and the Jewish families were forcibly evicted. Custodianship of the property was transferred to the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Properties.

In 1956, the Jordanian government leased the property to 28 families of Palestinian “refugees,” while maintaining ownership of the property. After the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel regained control of Jerusalem, it passed a law allowing Jews whose families were evicted by Jordanian or British authorities in the city prior to 1967 to reclaim their property, provided they could demonstrate proof of ownership and the existing residents were unable to provide such proof of purchase or legal transfer of title. In 1973, ownership of the property was registered by Sephardic Community Committee and the Knesset Israel Committee with Israeli authorities pursuant to the above law. Subsequently, in 2003, the owners sold the property to Nahalat Shimon an Israeli NGO that seeks to reclaim property for Jews evicted or forced to flee as a result of the 1948 War of Independence.

In 1982, the Jewish owners (Sephardic Community Committee and the Knesset Israel Committee) sued the Palestinian families residing in Sheikh Jarrah and demanded their eviction on the basis that they were squatters on the property. The Magistrate Court determined that the Palestinian families could not demonstrate their ownership of the property, but that they enjoyed Protected Tenant Status. As protected tenants, they would be able to continue living on the property as long as they paid rent and maintained the property. This arrangement was agreed upon mutually in agreement signed by the parties, in which the tenants recognized the trusts’ ownership in exchange for protected tenant status. Beginning in 1993, the trusts began proceedings against the residents based on their non-payment of rent and of illegal changes to the property.