Jewish Families Move into Homes in Silwan Once Occupied by Arabs

A dozen Jewish families and as many as 30 single men triumphantly established residence Thursday in five buildings previously occupied by Arabs in Silwan, until now a totally Arab enclave within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries.

The Jews arrived at dawn under massive police protection after Attorney General Yosef Harish ruled that they held legal title to the premises.

But Palestinian activist Faisal Husseini, a resident of East Jerusalem, condemned the occupation. He said the Jewish settlers were “destroying the peace process by unilateral action.”

According to an Israel Television report, Husseini has relayed instructions to the Palestinian delegates now in Washington to raise the issue immediately with the Israelis.

Jewish squatters first took possession of the buildings in Silwan on Oct. 9. Most of them were evicted by police for security reasons. But a nucleus of settlers was allowed to remain in one of the buildings pending a legal decision on their claim to ownership.

Although Harish found that they had indeed purchased the buildings, he recommended against their presence in Silwan on grounds that it could trigger disturbances throughout East Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek concurred.

But the Cabinet, ignoring the attorney general’s warning, announced Sunday that any Jew who could prove ownership of property in Silwan could live there.

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