Sheikh Jarrah families refuse meeting with Palestinian-Israeli 'kingmaker' politician

Sheikh Jarrah families refuse meeting with Palestinian-Israeli 'kingmaker' politician
3 min read
09 May, 2021
Families threatened with eviction have refused a meeting with Mansour Abbas, a Palestinian-Israeli Islamist politician who previously expressed willingness to partner with right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Abbas had drawn criticism from members of his own party [Getty]
A group of Palestinian families who are facing expulsion from their homes in occupied east Jerusalem refused to meet this week with the leader of a prominent Palestinian-Israeli party, saying that he was "allied" with the Israeli right-wing.  

About 500 Palestinians living in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah face eviction from their properties after Jewish settlers laid claim to them.

The issue has captured international attention in recent weeks as Israeli security forces violently suppressed protests held in solidarity with the threatened families.

The European Union has branded the threatened evictions "illegal" and the United Nations described them as a possible war crime.

The affected families have rejected a meeting with Mansour Abbas, whose Islamist-leaning United Arab List party, known by its Hebrew acronym Ra'am, won four seats in Israeli Knesset elections last March.

Following the elections, which produced no overall majority in the Israeli legislature, Abbas did not rule out the possiblity of joining a potential coalition government with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party even if that coalition included the far-right Religious Zionism party.

He has been referred to as a possible "kingmaker" in Israeli politics.

The Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood committee accused Abbas of forming an "alliance with the Zionist extreme right".

The Palestinian-Israeli politician's willingness to cooperate with the full breadth of the Israeli political spectrum has proved controversial.

More recently, Abbas has attracted condemnation from Palestinians after he was quoted in Hebrew media saying the Israeli victims of a drive-by shooting at a West Bank checkpoint this month as "innocents".

Read more: Mansour Abbas: The Islamist politician reshaping Israel's political landscape

The attack south of Nablus targeted three Israelis studying at a Jewish religious school in a nearby settlement, killing one of them.

Abbas' comments sparked a backlash from within his own party.

"We stand completely behind our people the Palestinians and condemn all the actions of the occupation and the settlers against our people," United Arab List MK Walid Taha was quoted as saying by The Times of Israel.

More than 600,000 Israelis currently reside in settlements in the occupied West Bank. These settlements are considered to be a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and illegal under international law.

Israeli settlers have routinely attacked Palestinians and their property in the West Bank, sometimes in full view of Israeli soldiers, and some Palestinians view them as legitimate targets.

Abbas was also previously quoted by Israel's Channel 12 television referring to Palestinian political prisoners as "terrorists". 

The residents of Sheikh Jarrah are awaiting a ruling by Israel's Supreme Court on their eviction.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move considered illegal under international law.

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