Written by By Emily Mhanna, CNN
Families at the center of a decades-long dispute between Palestinians and Israel have responded to an Israeli proposal that would turn the current villages of Sheikh Jarrah into one municipal unit, citing decades of Israeli “excesses.”
The city of Jerusalem, which holds a majority of the land of the Old City, has been working with an Israeli state authority, the Authority for Community and Development for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes (DPSPA), to redesignate the villages, alongside Givat Shaul and the neighborhoods of Kafr Aqab, as part of the northern sections of the Negev
But in a statement to CNN, the families said they will refuse any changes to their villages.
“We expect them to show the same concerns they show regarding Jews,” Miriam Basma, a spokesperson for the families, said in the statement. “We are not giving up. We are waiting for the outcome of a trial scheduled for this Monday at the Jerusalem Court.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin announced the plans for new zoning options last month.
Housing Minister Yoav Galant told Israel Radio at the time that the area, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, had become an eyesore due to frequent fighting between Palestinian and Israeli security forces.
“I’m talking about all of the Arab part of old Jerusalem and some 5,000 dunams (1,580 acres) of Arab land,” he said. “I’m talking about Shaikh Jarrah. Shaikh Jarrah was on fire all the time for more than 50 years. I don’t want it to be a part of the sheikhhood, because it is an Arab part of Jerusalem. I want it to be one thing.”
Galant said he and his colleague would meet with Sheikh Jarrah residents on Thursday.
3,000 Palestinian families have been displaced in Israel since 1948 and thousands are living in squalid, inhumane conditions due to a severe lack of affordable housing and social services.