ICAHD is part of the very diverse political group that make up the Sumarin Coalition that is pressurizing the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to stop its determination to evict the Sumarin family from their home in Silwan, East Jerusalem, located directly below the Old City.
On June 30th, 2020, the Israeli courts heard the final appeal of this case in which the Keren Kayemeth Leisrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), through its subsidiary organization, Himanuta, sought the eviction of the 18-member Palestinian Sumarin family from their home. The family lost their appeal and were ordered to leave their home on 16th August so that the JNF could take it over. On 5th August, the Israeli Supreme Court stayed the eviction, stating that it will debate whether to hear the family's appeal hence at least delaying the eviction.
Participate in this campaign to stop this eviction happening
Watch this three-minute film to learn about the family.
KKL-JNF has become a settler fund which has exploited legal methods to displace Palestinian families from their homes to hand them over to settlers. In this case Israel has used the Absentee Property Law based on what Peace Now describes as questionable evidence and which the Sumarin Coalition describes as using a draconian application which is biased against Palestinians. The KKL-JNF has been desiring this property for nearly 30 years and even after losing a previous court case, the KKL-JNF is not letting go.
Write to the KKL-JNF stating that this is an act of abject cruelty and it should renounce all claims to the property, cease legal proceedings against the family and let the family live in peace and safety in their own home. Nearly 3000 people have written to the JNF via this link and with more than 7000 messages sent from the Jewish Voice for Peace site in the US. Continue to flood the JNF staff with messages expressing our outrage about this eviction and which damages the reputation of the JNF.
Fifty-three years ago, the Israeli government unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem in violation of international law. The Sumarin family’s struggle to stay in their home is yet another example of what displacement looks like and which has already been experienced by other Palestinians not only in East Jerusalem but also in the West Bank. The KKL-JNF also operates within the state of Israel and is active in displacing Palestinians from the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev. If the Israeli government proceeds to formally annex great swathes of the West Bank, even more Palestinians will be pushed off their land and for many, Israel will use the Absentee Property Law to accomplish this.
At present the global coronavirus pandemic remains with us. For most people, their home is their place of safety and security. For Palestinians this is not the case as even now the KKL-JNF seeks to displace families.
Press Release sent 6th August 2020:
Israeli Supreme Court Stays Eviction of Palestinian Family from East Jerusalem Home
- Eviction of the Sumarin family from Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, stayed after Israeli court declares it will hear their appeal
- Decision follows international campaign by Sumarin Coalition
- 69MPs had signed Early Day Motion 529, condemning the unjust eviction of the family.
- Appeal has been described as a ‘test case’
- If the appeal is not successful, the expulsion of Palestinians from their privately owned land could accelerate
Yesterday (05/08/2020) the Israeli Supreme Court stayed the eviction of the Sumarin family from their home in Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, declaring it will debate whether to hear their appeal against a Jerusalem District Court verdict which gave a green light to their eviction. The Associated Press reported in July that the "Absentee Property Law" being used to evict the Sumarin family may be seen as a test case and extended throughout the West Bank if Israel’s annexation plans proceed, offering Palestinians a grim model for a post-annexation future.
The Sumarin family have been subject to a long attempt to force them from the family home in which they have been living, dating back long before 1967, when Israel annexed East Jerusalem in violation of international law.
The eviction attempts have been spearheaded by Himanuta, a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF). The KKL-JNF has been central to the ongoing dispossession of Palestinian land.
In 1989, KKL-JNF initiated a move whereby the Custodian for Absentee Property, established by the Israeli state in 1950, declared the house absentee property. This deemed it abandoned without the family’s knowledge and despite members of the family living in the home. Following this, the property was transferred to KKL-JNF along with a host of other Palestinian properties in Silwan.
Immediately after taking over the home’s ownership, the KKL-JNF filed an eviction suit against the Sumarin family in 1991. The lawsuit was dismissed but KKL-JNF appealed and continued the proceedings repeatedly for nearly 30 years.
On June 29th, 2020 the family lost an appeal in the Jerusalem District Court, which gave the green light for their eviction. The family, with support from an international network of activists, crowdfunded to submit an appeal to the Supreme Court. The court’s declaration that it will hear the appeal temporarily delays the eviction.
An international campaign, led by the Sumarin family and including Jewish Israeli groups, has developed to prevent the eviction. In the UK, human rights campaigners have spoken out prominently against the eviction. A cross-party group 69 MPs has signed Early Day Motion 529, which condemned the eviction. In Jerusalem, on the day of the court decision, activists from “Free Jerusalem” and “All That’s Left” chained themselves to the entrance of the JNF-KKL headquarters: nine protesters were arrested.
Stop the JNF UK, the UK branch of the international campaign to Stop the JNF, said: “We are pleased that the Sumarin family have been given some temporary reprieve by this decision. The unjust eviction of the family, indicative of the widespread discrimination Palestinians in East Jerusalem face, must not take place.”
The Director of ICAHD UK added: “We welcome news that the Israeli Supreme Court will hear the Sumarin family case but based on previous cases involving Palestinians, we’re concerned that the Court will rule on the basis of narrow Israeli law rather than following international law and providing the protection due to Palestinians under the 4th Geneva Convention.”
Ask Your MP to support Early Day Motion #529. It is vital that you ask your MP to support Parliamentary Early Day Motion #529. Israeli Supreme Court rulings against Palestinians have not been consistent with international law and the 4th Geneva Convention. Therefore our Government has a duty to hold Israel to account.
That this House strongly condemns the ongoing attempts of the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) to evict the Sumarin family from their home in East Jerusalem; recognises this within a broader context of the Israeli government’s efforts to demographically alter the population of Jerusalem, and the controversial use of Israel’s Absentee Property Law to dispossess Palestinians of their land; notes the Sumarin family have lived at their property, with deeds of ownership, for over fifty years; reiterates that ethnic cleansing is one of the most serious crimes, and that the UK is committed to upholding international law; urgently requests the Government to intervene on behalf of the Sumarin family, and calls on the Charity Commission to review the charitable status of JNF UK.
Further details of the Early Day Motion may be found here.
You can use the sample letter here or adapt it..
You can find your MP here.
Court Rejected the Sumarin Family Appeal and Ruled its Eviction by August 16, 2020
On 30 June 2020,the district court of Jerusalem rejected the Sumarin family’s appeal regarding the eviction lawsuit filed by the Himanuta company, a subsidiarity of the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF). The court ruled that the family failed to prove its rights to the property and should therefore vacate it in favor of the JNF by August 16, 2020. The JNF received the property from the Custodian of Absentee Property in 1991 and has been conducting eviction proceedings against the family in the courts ever since.
The eviction lawsuit against the Sumarin family is based on the abuse of the Absentees’ Property Law, enacted in 1950 to allow the young State of Israel to deal with the hundreds of thousands of properties abandoned by its Palestinian owners who became refugees during the war in 1948. In 1967 with the annexation of East Jerusalem, Israeli law has been applied to East Jerusalem and Israeli governments have taken advantage of this law in order to ban families, such as the Sumarin family, from their homes and transfer the assets to the settlers.
The Coalition for the Sumarin Family said: “In the ruling, the court did not address the most important, fundamental point, which is that the house was taken in plunder. The JNF’s legal woes did not change the fundamental fact that the use of the Absentees’ Property Law to take over the house was done without good faith, as two government legal advisers and a government inquiry commission, determined”.
In the past few weeks, more than 10,000 people of conscience around the world have called on the Jewish National Fund to remove their hands from the Sumarin family home and immediately stop attempts to throw the family into the street. Among them are 34 recipients of the Israel Prize, 120 world-renowned intellectuals, and 150 graduates and of the JNF youth group.
The family said it was considering to appeal to the Supreme Court.
(Update by Peace Now 1 July, 2020)
For further background see:
KKL-JNF and its Role in Settlement Expansion. (Peace Now)
The Jewish National Fund Should Stop Trying to Kick a Palestinian Family Out of Their Home (Rabbi Michael Marmur)