J Street welcomes the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling that the Palestinian Sumarin family cannot be evicted from their home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. This ruling resolves a 32-year effort by the Jewish National Fund and the right-wing settlement group Elad to unfairly displace the family from their long-time home.
The Sumarin case has long been watched closely by pro-Israel, pro-peace leaders and activists in the United States. In September 2020, J Street was proud to support a letter sent to Prime Minister Netanyahu by 26 Members of Congress, led by former Representative Jackie Speier.
The Members of Congress observed that the attempted eviction of the Sumarin family was based on an unjust and improper application of Israel’s Absentee Property Law. They warned that “if the government of Israel permits the misapplication of the Absentee Property Law in the case of the Sumarin family, it could be further applied in areas that Israel might acquire through any future unilateral annexation of West Bank territories. We believe this could formalize the illegal expropriation of private Palestinian land on a massive scale.”
This ruling is a victory for all the Palestinian and Israeli advocates who worked tirelessly to defend the Sumarin family and to contest the harmful efforts to evict them. It is also a timely reminder of the critical role that the Israeli Supreme Court can play in upholding Palestinian rights, and the rule of law in general – and why the Israeli settlement movement and the current far-right government are so determined to crush the independence of the court.
As the Sumarin family’s lawyer said today, the decision “demonstrates the importance of the Supreme Court as the last bastion for every resident and citizen of the country.” Defending that bastion is critical to preserving a future for Israel as a liberal democracy – and to preventing the further entrenchment of occupation and acts of injustice against Palestinians.