Palestinian Authority rejects Israeli Supreme Court proposal to settle ‘blocs’ near Jerusalem

( Fox News )- The Palestinian Authority on Thursday rejected an Israeli Supreme Court proposal for a compromise to let Palestinian Bedouin communities that have been under pressure to leave their homes near Jerusalem continue to live in them.

In a statement sent to Fox News, the PA said it does not accept any Israeli proposal.

Palestinians will continue their “legitimate struggle to restore the historic rights” of their communities and hold talks “with all concerned parties.”

Two senior Palestinian figures, Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi, told the Palestinian news service Ma’an that the PA rejected a suggestion by a panel of two judges to let some residents remain in their villages, but others move to the West Bank.

They said the court proposal was “the beginning of a new ballgame in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and a step toward severe damage to the Israeli right of return, the ability of the Palestinians to regain their rights and the Palestinian right to return to Israel proper.”

Ma’an reported that Israel “has yet to issue a formal response to the PA’s rejection of the proposal, and so far, no decisions have been taken about the future of the Bedouin villages.”

The PA refers to the scattered Bedouin villages as “blocs” and says they were established unlawfully after Israel’s 1948 creation.

Israel defends the blocs as natural outposts that were established legally following the war for independence. Some of the camps were built on private Palestinian land.

Israel’s Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that the majority of the blocs should be demolished. Because the blocs were built on private Palestinian land, Israeli authorities typically do not allow their residents to relocate there.

In a court ruling this week, the court’s chief justice, Aharon Barak, said the way they were built – without permission – was “illegal.”

Many of the residents, led by women, gathered outside the court building in Jerusalem chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to the settlements,” Ma’an reported.

Footage from a Palestinian news site showed some residents’ tents and cars in flames.

To compound the community’s plight, their official bodies have not been recognized by Israel. Last year, they received a letter from Israel’s attorney general that referred to their villages as “blocs” and not as legitimate Palestinian communities.

The Palestinians have threatened to end a $72 million grant to the city of Jerusalem over the issue.

Israel’s prime minister is set to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump Monday for a summit focusing on ways to advance peace talks between the two countries, but the Israeli government has decided not to grant a temporary building permit to the owners of a small Jerusalem Arab village who are due to be forcibly evicted.

The Cabinet approved a budget bill Friday that will allow the state to spend the money.

The State Department expressed disappointment and called on Israel to grant the residents of Abu Dis the permit as scheduled.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters traveling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that she couldn’t comment further on the issue. But Nauert said that “the U.S. has gone to some lengths through this to try to encourage the Jewish state to ensure the residents of Abu Dis have the opportunity to have a legitimate connection to Jerusalem.”

Khalil Adam, head of the Palestinian side of the U.S.-brokered peace talks, said Israel was continuing to take additional steps against the villages, including trying to have electricity and sewage services cut off. The Palestinian Authority has called the demolitions “collective punishment.”

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