Israel’s attorney general told the Supreme Court on Monday that he would not intervene in a high-profile eviction case against Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jara district, which officials say has a bad chance of halting their planned eviction.
Officials at Avichai Mendelblit’s office say they believe the family’s case is too weak and that his legal opinion could not prevent their impending eviction. A source close to Mendelblitt told Haaretz that the political leadership supports the decision to refrain from arguing in court on behalf of the state.
In a statement, Mendeblit cited “numerous legal cases over the years”
Last month, the court ordered Mendelblitt to present a legal opinion on the eviction case, which sparked a wave of protests and attracted the attention of the international community, and the state prosecutor’s office asked the court to postpone its decision until Mendelblitt decides its position.
Judge Isaac Amit granted the state prosecutor’s request and gave Mendelblitt until June 8 to present his legal opinion, approving the additional time requested by the chief prosecutor. Mendelblitt’s latest statement now means that the court is not expected to wait for other materials before ruling on the case.
The lawsuit was filed by Nahalat Shimon, a company that acquired the interests of Jewish families who lived in the neighborhood before Israel was founded in 1948.
It directly affects Sheikh Jara’s three families, but there are several similar cases pending, and any decision by Israel’s Supreme Court is likely to affect them, potentially paving the way for the eviction of at least dozens of Palestinian families.
Peace Now criticized Mendelblitt’s decision in a statement, calling it a “cynical attempt to avoid responsibility.” It called on the state to “present its position to the public and to the court, as families are thrown out into the streets by enforcing a set of laws that discriminate against Israelis and Palestinians.”