Jordan hands over Palestinian documents to stop Israel enforcing Jerusalem evictions

Israeli court reportedly gave families until May 2 to leave their homes in the predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah or be evicted

Israeli soldiers and police officers prevent Palestinian women from crossing at Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem. EPA
Israeli soldiers and police officers prevent Palestinian women from crossing at Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem. EPA

A Jordanian diplomat handed the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah documents on Wednesday intended to help prevent Israel from expelling Palestinian families from part of Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, he said.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi made the trip to the West Bank after an Israeli court reportedly gave the families until May 2 to leave their homes in the predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah or be evicted.

Jordan administered the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, until the 1967 war and remains the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

A handout picture released by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry on April 21, 2021 shows Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (R) meeting with Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Ramallah. - XGTY / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / Jordanian Foreign Ministry / - / XGTY / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas with Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Ramallah. Jordan Foreign Ministry via AFP

The kingdom says it built homes for Palestinian refugees in East Jerusalem after the state of Israel’s creation in 1948.

“All the documents we hold on property and land in Jerusalem have been passed on to the Palestinian Authority,” Mr Safadi said in Ramallah.

“We are co-operating with the Palestinian Authority and the international community to prevent the expulsion of the Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah.”

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said it had “found the documents proving that the ministry of development that built these houses had in 1956 finalised lease agreements for homes in Sheikh Jarrah”.

It said the contracts between the Jordanian government, which owned the houses, and Palestinian tenants, were certified by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. According to the documents, the houses were for 28 families.

Mr Safadi said Jordan’s King Abdullah II considers Jerusalem “a red line”.

“There must be international action capable of stopping unilateral Israeli measures,” the minister said.

Israeli authorities made no comment.

Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dhaifallah Ali Al Fayez said the beneficiaries were Palestinian refugees who fled their homes in 1948.

“After 1967, there have been repeated attempts by Israel to expel the Palestinians from their homes,” he told AFP.

Jerusalem’s status is one of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the international community insisting it must be negotiated by the two sides.

Israel views the whole city as its capital while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their own future state.

Updated: May 18, 2021 10:41 PM

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