In the Sheikh Jarrah Affair, Palestinians Decided Getting Nothing Is Better Than Accepting Three-Quarters of a Loaf

In May, the case of Jerusalem property owners seeking to evict four Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood—or at the very least use the courts to force them to pay rent—became an international cause célèbre. Hamas even cited it as a pretext for its war with Israel. Since then, the case has continued to wend its way through the Israeli judicial system, until the Supreme Court this week proposed a compromise. Jonathan Tobin explains what happened:

Rather than uphold the property rights of the Jewish owners, the Israeli Supreme Court made the Arab families an offer that they shouldn’t have refused. It would allow them to stay in place by paying minimal rents and a fraction of the legal costs of their opponents while still giving them the right to have the case reopened by Israel’s Ministry of Justice, and also providing them extra legal protections that would guarantee that they couldn’t be evicted.

Pressured by the terrorist groups and corrupt officials that control Palestinian political life, the families turned down the deal with a statement that claimed that any effort to restore the property rights of the actual owners was a “crime” that was a matter of “ethnic cleansing perpetrated by a settler-colonial judiciary and its settlers.”

The language used here matters. It’s not just that their claim of “ethnic cleansing” is ironic because the only reason Arabs are living in these homes is due to the fact that Jews themselves were ethnically cleansed from parts of their ancient capital in 1948. It’s that they regard the state of Israel and its liberal Supreme Court as “settlers” who are no different from the most extreme Jewish residents of the most remote hilltop settlement deep in the West Bank.

Instead of accepting an extraordinary offer from Israel’s Supreme Court, which would have protected them from eviction from homes they do not own and for which they have refused to pay rent, [the Arab litigants, pressured by the Palestinian Authority], preferred to continue a fight in which they don’t have a legal leg to stand on.

Read more at JNS

More about: Guardian of the Walls, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Jerusalem, Supreme Court of Israel


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy