Families refuse to leave their homes amid Jerusalem dispute

Residents threaten to return to Jewish sector of Jerusalem unless Israel accepts forced eviction and fines

The families of Palestinians being threatened with forcible eviction from the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City have rejected the Israeli supreme court’s proposal for them to go back to their homes in the Jewish sector.

The court’s ruling comes as international outrage grows over the demolition of Palestinian homes in eastern Jerusalem, which has been condemned by the UN and the international community.

Ayed Abu Eesa, a member of the family of the dead Swedish aid worker, Anna Ardin, who asked Israel for her body to be returned, said they were opposed to leaving their home.

According to Abu Eesa and other activists he had been negotiating with a committee of Palestinian representatives, who had drawn up a plan to leave the apartment in return for a reparation.

But they refused the agreement, Abu Eesa said, arguing it would not guarantee their freedom in the Jewish sector of the city.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the committee of the families insisted that the agreement was never “made and that it did not have a real legal effect in the people’s eyes”.

Palestinian negotiators blame the UN’s refusal to intervene on a “distinctly Jewish” attitude, and accused the UN’s envoy, Nikki Haley, of giving the Israeli “instrument” to sabotage the peace process and prevent the recent interim peace plan for Jerusalem from being published.

In an interview with Fox News in September, Haley warned that in the future Palestinians would not be able to move to the Jewish sector.

When asked about the Palestinian commission’s refusal to sign the agreement, the UN’s chief spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told journalists on Saturday: “I think the UK has made its view pretty clear on this … They certainly feel that the proposal put forward for the families in Sheikh Jarrah is unacceptable.”

On Friday the Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said there would be “war” if any Palestinian family was forced to move from the Muslim quarter of the Old City to the Jewish sector.

The dispute follows a ruling in April by the state administrative court allowing an eviction plan that would have involved forced evictions of tenants living in the Muslim quarter.

On Saturday, the defence ministry said the government considered the recommendation presented to the supreme court on Monday by the Palestinian committee unacceptable. It said it would await a report by a team of experts from the defence and foreign ministries to make a decision on the matter.

The five-judge panel deemed that the Palestinians’ plan, which included offering a compensation of around $30,000 (£23,000) in return for the tenants remaining, was neither realistic nor feasible.

According to the Israeli police, nine of about 30 families in Sheikh Jarrah, many of them refugees from 1948, which saw the creation of Israel and its conquering of the Gaza Strip, have already been evicted.

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