One Arab family of squatters homes in the Shimon Hatzadik/Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has reached an arrangement with the Jewish owners of the home where they live, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.
The arrangement, which a few days ago was given the force of a final ruling by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, may also serve as a precedent for the other Arab families in the neighborhood. It is a blow to both the PA and Hamas, which are putting a lot of pressure on the Arab residents of Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah’s Hebrew name) not to reach understandings and arrangements with the Jewish owners of the homes in the area.
The standalone deal was signed while the parties to the struggle over the Jewish-owned homes in the Shimon Hatzadik are awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the fate of the Arab squatter families living there—following a visit by senior Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials to the seven families who subsequently rejected the compromise they had agreed to (Update: After Visit by PA Officials: 7 Arab Sheikh Jarrah Families No Longer Accept Court’s Compromise).
The family in question is not part of the appeal filed by the Arab squatters to the Supreme Court against the District Court’s decision to evict them. Under the reported arrangement, this family will eventually leave the house, but only in many years from now.
Following the legal battle over ownership of several homes in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the Jewish owners have rights to the homes where the Arabs live illegally, following which eight Arab families in the neighborhood appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justice Dafna Barak-Erez proposed a compromise according to which the homes would be transferred to Jewish hands, while the Arabs living in them would be declared protected tenants who may not be evicted. According to the proposed arrangement, each Arab family in the neighborhood would deposit an annual rent of NIS 2,400 ($766) in the account of the Nahalat Shimon Hatzadik company’s attorney, payments to be deposited for each year in advance. That’s $64 a month for a home in Jerusalem, folks – and they didn’t want to accept it at first, because it meant recognizing that Jews owned those homes.
Those lucky, lucky protected Arab tenants will pay the legal expenses in the two previous courts in the amount of NIS 30,000 ($9,576.18). It should cost them something – although I won’t hold my breath. And then, after grabbing the deal initially, the squatters got a visit from Fatah and had a sudden change of heart (you don’t mess with Fatah).
Moving on: the Arab family that agreed to an arrangement with the Jewish owners, after the owners had sued, moved into the house in 1956. The new arrangement stipulates that the Arabs who live in the house will pay rent to the owners and will be able to continue to hold on to the property “until the end of their lives,” but without the right of protected tenants.
According to Israel’s Tenant Protection Regulations, every property owner who rents it to tenants is obliged to take care of the property and infrastructure, including maintaining stairwell cleanliness and active lighting, maintaining proper sewerage infrastructure (if the property is not connected to a municipal sewer system), and repairing cracks in the walls of the property or building, holes in the floor, window bars, railings and floors of balconies, repairs in the stairwell and gutters, awnings and structural faults, access roads to the house, a bomb shelter, water pipes and power lines in the building.
Finally, the standalone deal stipulates that if the Jewish owners receive a building permit for the house, they would provide alternative housing for the Arab family. But in any case, “the eviction will not be carried out before the lapse of 10 years from the date of the validity of the judgment for the agreement between the parties.”
Also, one of the main clauses in the agreement clarifies that the rights of the Arabs who dwell in the home today cannot be transferred to any other party, including their children or anyone from their family.