The issue is more complex than the ordinary news consumer would think. This issue of law was the subject of contending property claims dating back for more than 50 years. This case's procedural history was born around 1973.
Now for some background:
The eviction taking place is located in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah - a mostly Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem.
What's the claim?
The Palestinian community contends four Palestinian families are being unjustly evicted from their homes in the above-mentioned neighborhood. The settler organization, Nahalat Shimon claim they possess the legal title of the property and the rent has not been paid by the tenants. They reason, absent rent, a breach of law has occurred and gives them justification to evict.
The neighborhood, Sheikh Jarrah was developed in the 19th century.
In 1875, Jewish communities purchased this land from its Arab owners, according to Israel's Supreme Court. The new owners registered the property in the Ottoman land registry.
In 1948, the Arab-Israeli war broke out. A portion of Jerusalem and its adjacent areas, including Sheikh Jarrah, were captured by Jordan. The Jewish families were evicted. The property was transferred to the Jordanian Custodian Of Enemy Properties.
In 1956, 28 Palestinian families leased the property from the Jordanian government.
In 1967, after the Six-Day War, Israel regained control of Jerusalem. A law was established, permitting Jews whose families were evicted by Jordanian or British authorities in the city prior to 1967 to reclaim their property - provided they demonstrate proof of ownership and the existing residents were unable to provide proof of purchase or legal transfer of title.
In 1973, ownership of the property was registered by the Sephardic Community Committee and the Kenesset Israel Committee with Israeli authorities pursuant to the above law.
In 2003, the owners sold the property to Nahalat Shimon, an organization that seeks to reclaim property for Jews evicted or forced to flee as a result of the 1948 war.
In 1982, the SCC and KIC (above-mentioned) sued the Palestinian families residing in Sheikh Jarrah and demanded their eviction on the grounds they were squatters on the property. The Magistrate Court determined that the Palestinian families could not demonstrate their ownership of the property, but they enjoyed Protected Tenant Status. As protected tenants, they would be able to continue living on the property as long as they paid rent and maintained the property. This arrangement was agreed upon mutually in agreement signed by the parties, in which the tenants recognized the trusts' ownership in exchange for protected tenant status.
In 1993, the trusts began proceedings against the residents based on their non-payment of rent and illegal changes to the property.
In 1997, Suliman Darwish Hijazi, a Palestinian man, attempted to challenge the trusts' ownership of the property, based on a Kushan, an Ottoman title, that he allegedly purchased from a Jordanian man, al- Bandeq, in 1961. The court ruled that Hijazi failed to demonstrate that the Kushan refers to the claimed property, and that forensic evidence raised the likelihood that the Kushan had been altered or forged. Further, Hijazi failed to prove that al- Bandeq had ever owned the property and thus had the the right to sell it. Finally, Hijazi had never acted to protect his property rights, both during the Jordanian and Israeli periods, by registering it, charging rent, or paying property tax.
Current state of legal proceedings:
Following the judgement of the Jerusalem District Court in February 2021, upholding an earlier court decision, that, in the absence of payment of rent, the Palestinian residents must vacate the premises, the tenants appealed to the Supreme Court, with a final verdict expected in the next month.