As the eviction appeal case moves on to the Israeli Supreme Court, the US Department of State has expressed concern about the looming possibility of Palestinian families being removed from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter told reporters on Friday that Washington is "deeply concerned about the heightened tensions in Jerusalem."
Recent reports from the area have claimed that Israeli forces operating in the area have injured dozens of Palestinians, and reportedly "kidnapped" a number of individuals from their homes.
"As we head into a sensitive period in the days ahead, it will be critical for all sides to ensure calm and act responsibly to deescalate tensions and avoid violent confrontation," Porter said. "We're deeply concerned about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations."
Porter's comments come weeks after State Department spokesperson Ned Price issued a similar statement of "concern" for the city of Jerusalem.
We are deeply concerned by the escalation of violence in Jerusalem. The rhetoric of extremist protestors chanting hateful and violent slogans must be firmly rejected. We call for calm and unity, and urge authorities to ensure the safety, security, and rights of all in Jerusalem.— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) April 23, 2021
Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has stated that the evictions, "if ordered and implemented, would violate Israel's obligations under international law" regarding East Jerusalem.
"We call on Israel to immediately halt all forced evictions, including those in Sheikh Jarrah, and to cease any activity that would further contribute to a coercive environment and lead to a risk of forcible transfer," he said on Friday.
The legal case regarding the Palestinian families' rights remains ongoing and has been advanced to the Supreme Court. Previously, an Israeli court failed to get the families and settlers to reach an agreement regarding land ownership.
Jewish settler organization Lahav Shomron has argued that the land in question has belonged to a Jewish group since 1972. However, the Palestinian families' attorney has disputed the authenticity of said group's documents, and claimed that the Jewish settlers are "illegally" attempting to make the Palestinian families pay rent.
"Our request to appeal the eviction was based on sound legal arguments that any judge would have easily accepted but the prevailing atmosphere made it difficult for the judge to stand up for justice," the families' attorney told Arab News.
According to rental law in Jerusalem, the families' agreement to pay rent would mean the settlers legally own the land.