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Wake Up Palestine – A new door that may protect the homes of the people of Silwan with Dana Mills

Jerusalem24 – A group of Israeli experts on international human rights law have filed an application to submit a brief in the first high court case concerning an eviction application broke by settlers against a Palestinian family from Batn al Hawa in Silwan. This case could have implications for hundreds of other residents facing eviction. According to the brief, Palestinian resident’s human rights to housing includes a right to continue living in properties that have served as their homes for decades and that they have developed certain property rights to these homes. The brief addresses an approach that has emerged in international human rights law which puts an emphasis on groups of occupants facing eviction, systematic discrimination against them; where these are present in certain circumstances where the occupants’ rights stemming from the human rights to housing and specifically to live in their homes and their families home trump the right of the original owner or their substitute to regain possession of the property.

In this episode of Wake up Palestine Dana Mills exterior relations director at Peace Now, spoke about the innovation of this brief is that its using the international human rights law and not just looking at property mitigation and property laws used in these issues up until now, in which clearly the inequality of power between settlers that are using the Israeli law in order to control the Palestinian homes in a country where Palestinians have no recourse because obviously the Israeli law is the law used in courts, the law is against them.

“The brief uses a comparative approach looking at a variety of briefs from around the world from Cyprus to south Africa even to Germany, that has delt with similar cases of feuds over lands and rights over land. And trying to show that in communities are discriminated against, those communities have rights enshrined in human rights law against being possessed and basically being attacked as communities, because basically looking at the stakes within human rights and within community rights, rather than just talking about who has the right to property; which then can reflect at looking at situations in which there’s an inequality in regards to international law. Similar to the cases of Sheikh Jarrah and Gaza with their feuds over property we know that the international law has high stakes of allegiance with Israeli law. We hope that this case will help show a different lens which will allows the Israeli law and Israeli courts to have another thing to look at comparatively”.

She also added “whether this brief was used or not in Israeli cases over property disputes. Because clearly again, we are not dealing with property disputes, we are trapped in the way these issues are portrayed in Israeli media and the Israeli law.  This is not an issue of two neighbors fighting over a fence, this is the case of people being consistently being thrown out of their homeland by people who are governing them under their occupation, so in terms of human rights and international law, I think its remarkable and hopefully can change the way the eviction laws are being dealt with”.

Furthermore Mills continued, the shift and the understanding that these disputes are more than just legal disputes, all of the cases are being presented to the Israeli public as a legal debate in which there is no access to them apart from legal experts, this of course raises the whole political context of these law suits.  And I think looking at the systematic repositions and the inequality before the law we are given two different reactions and results to these eviction laws. Sheikh Jarrah has now become an international hot spot and the intervention of public names who have taken a stand publicly and talked about what happened, kind of pushed the Israeli public to rethink their position in the debate. “So, I think making a change in these eviction laws can change the conversation politically and not just legally”.

“Absolutely it a very crucial intervention and I think that when we initiated this brief to the international community, it led on this approach. The disputes between Israeli and Palestinians over land are always presented in the Israeli courts as unique and from a very specific point of view, if we look to similar cases around the world like Cyprus and Germany, we can see the justice system and laws are being used to ensure justice and equality for all parties”.

“Hence, we filled this brief so we can help resolve the situation that we are in, in the hopes of it giving a broader vision within the Israeli justice system and how some court cases are filed in unjust circumstances and how discussions around them can be drawn because we know we hit a dead end, eviction laws have been going for years in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, where residents are being threatened to be kicked out of their homes after living there for some time and after being expelled from living in other places – because people who live in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan were expelled from living in other places. So, we hope it can allow an understanding that people wherever they are having a right to live in a community and to have their human rights protected”.

“Finally , we have to wait and see because with these cases there is always an ambiguity on how it will be received an how it will progress further, we continue to support the residents of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan who are present in this struggle and we continue to support others who are going through similar situations as well. This is an on going case that is not new to us, it is new in terms of the approach taken but it is not new in terms of what we are doing on the ground”.

Mona Hijjawi

Editor/Presenter Graduated from The Arab Academy for Science Technology and Maritime Transport in Cairo, BA in Translation and Mass Communication. Currently Ramallah based Journalist and presenter at Jerusalem24.

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