Old City, old story: a case for eviction in Jerusalem?

by the Jerusalem team,

Nora Sub Laban was born in 1956 and has lived in her home in the heart of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City all her life. Her family has lived in this house, since 1953. Now, she tells us, Israeli settlers are pushing for her eviction so that a Jewish settler family can move in. Nora, lives here with her family of nine, including grandchildren – they are the last remaining Palestinian family on the street.

Jerusalem Al-Khalidiyya St (Sub Laban family Photo EAPPI/K.Cargin

2015 East Jerusalem, Al-Khalidiyya St EA visits Sub Laban family home in Muslim Quarter. Photo EAPPI/K.Cargin

Nora welcomed us to her home and told us her story. We sit in her living room, from where you can see the Dome of the Rock. Her grandson is running around playing. He is clearly oblivious to the threat of eviction that has hung over the family since 1978. She tell us that her case has been heard in court eleven times and that her case won ten times! However in the last attempt, on 16 March this year, she lost her case and the family were notified that they would be evicted. The family quickly launched an online petition to raise awareness and support for her case. On the the 18 November, to their relief, the family received a temporary injunction on the eviction order. Now they await a decision by the Israeli High Court.


20.06.15. East Jerusalem, A view of the Muslim Quarter from inside the Old City walls. Photo EAPPI/I.Tanner

Soon after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Sub Laban family began renting the property from Jordan’s Custodian of Enemy Property in 1953 as “protected tenants”. This administrative body was established to deal with property abandoned by Jewish people who were forced out of homes in the West Bank 1948. But after the war in 1967, when Israel began its occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the properties under it authority were transferred to the Israeli Guardian of Absentee Property. Even so, the Sub Labans remained, and still remain, “protected tenants.” This means that they are on the lease legally and protected from rent increase and eviction.

According to Nora, the trouble for the Sub Labans started in 2010 when the Guardian of Absentee Property transferred ownership of the home to Ateret Cohanim. This is a settler organisation which has the aim of creating a Jewish majority in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. This process is facilitated by Israeli laws effective in Jerusalem that allow Jewish people to claim property in Palestine that belonged to Jewish people before 1948 [Israel’s establishment]. This might seem fair but this law only works one way. Palestinians are not allowed to reclaim property owned by them in the West of the city and elsewhere in Israel.

Noras case raises serious concerns about forcible transfer and displacement both of which are prohibited under International law. Sadly Noras case is not isolated; in fact her story it is illustrative of a much wider trend. According to UNOCHA: Since 1967, over 2,000 houses in East Jerusalem were demolished at least 14,000 Palestinians had their Jerusalem residency revoked by the Israeli authorities. Several hundred Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are at risk of forced displacement due to settler activities, particularly in the Old City, Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah. 35% of land in East Jerusalem has been confiscated for Israeli settlement use; only 13% of East Jerusalem is zoned for Palestinian construction, much of which is already built-up. [1]

The Sub Luban family believe that the only reason that they are still living in their house is because of their persistence and the attention of the international community. This week, Nora calls upon citizens of the world to take action to stop her family’s pending eviction by Israeli occupation. Take action today, click here to learn what you can do.

Take action box 2


More information:

The Middle East Monitor: East Jerusalem evictions: The Sub Laban family’s story

Electronic Intifada: Last Palestinian family in Jerusalem neighborhood fear eviction at any moment

UNOCHA 2014: East Jerusalem Key Humanitarian Concerns

Alzazeera: Q&A: ‘We are being evicted because we are Palestinians’

Haaretz: Four Palestinian Families Face Eviction From East Jerusalem Home Next Week

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