Israel does not plan to evict Arab residents from Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood even if the Supreme Court makes it possible, sources close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have said.
The district has drawn international attention since successive Israeli courts ordered the eviction of Palestinian tenants because they live in properties that were once Jewish-owned.
The Supreme Court is due to rule on an appeal next Monday.
But sources close to Bennett told the Jerusalem Post that they did not expect the court to order officials to enforce any eviction order or to impose a deadline.
The source told the newspaper that an eviction order was “unlikely”, adding: “the government will take advantage of that in order to not fuel the flames of conflict in Jerusalem.”
The situation in Sheikh Jarrah, a short walk from Jerusalem’s Old City, was used as a pretext by Hamas to launch rockets towards Israel during the most recent conflict in May.
Known in Hebrew as Shimon HaTzadik, the neighbourhood was Jewish before Israel declared independence and war broke out in 1948.
At the end of the conflict, the neighbourhood was taken over by Jordan, which offered housing there for Palestinian families displaced from other parts of Israel.
After Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the Six Day War in 1967, those families began to pay rent to Israelis.
The properties’ Palestinian ownership had not been widely contested in the courts until a decade ago, when right-wing Israeli and settler groups began a legal battle arguing they were rightful owners of the land.
Lower courts have upheld claims that the property is owned by the Nahalat Shimon Company, which seeks to develop the land for Jewish housing.
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