Christian residents in part of Jerusalem reject Israeli offer

Image copyright AFP Image caption Sheikh Jarrah is home to some 50,000 Palestinians

The families at the centre of a fresh legal battle with Israel over ownership of a Christian quarter have rejected a proposal to relocate them.

Khalil Najjar of the Muslim group that controls the area says a “gentleman’s agreement” with the Jewish owners of the area had stalled.

He accused the Jewish owners of planning to force the families to leave.

On 1 December, the Israeli Supreme Court said it could not do anything more about a recent government decision to grant Jewish ownership over parts of the quarter.

But Mr Najjar said the court’s proposed solution, in which the Jewish owners would buy the buildings through the government, was “unacceptable”.

It was the second time the Supreme Court had rejected his family’s claim that the building, many of whose residential apartments are religious sites, should be transferred to Palestinian hands.

Mr Najjar insisted the Jewish owners could not be trusted and the deal reached with them was not a “gentleman’s agreement”.

“It’s nothing more than political financing,” he told reporters after the judges rejected his latest appeal.

This is the second time a deal has been brokered between the Jewish owners and Mr Najjar’s family to transfer ownership to Palestinian hands.

They first signed the agreement in 1996 but it was dismissed by the court in 1998 after Christian groups challenged it.

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