Maher Hanoun, a resident of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem, has been ordered by court to vacate his home. Dozens of the neighborhood's residents, as well as Jewish and Arab politicians and human rights activists arrived at Hanoun's house on Sunday to protest the court's decision.
Earlier Sunday it was reported that the US is pressuring Israel to
halt the development of a planned hotel in Sheikh Jarrah.
The protestors held up a poster carrying US President Barack Obama's image and the caption in English, "President Obama, yes you can - stop the evictions and house demolitions in east Jerusalem."
"My responsibility is to protect my house, in which I was born in 1956, and to protect my children who were also born here," said Hanoun. "Should they evacuate us, we have no place else to go. We ask everybody to help the families of Sheikh Jarrah."
Hatem Abdel-Qader, who several weeks ago resigned from his post as Palestinian Authority minister for Jerusalem affairs, told Ynet: "The Americans are pressuring Israel to suspend all changes in the status quo and not to build a settlement at the Sheppard Hotel. The area in question is Palestinian and is under Israeli occupation. We hope that the American pressure will yield results."
Abdel-Qader added: "We are here to support the Hanoun family and send a message to the whole world – the decision to raze houses and build a settlement is illegal."
The former minister believes that the US can have tremendous influence on the issue. "Who else can do it but Obama? However, we need more than speeches; we need real pressure that would stop the Israelis actions in east Jerusalem."
Jerusalem City Council member for Meretz Meir Margalit also attended the rally Sunday. "The Sheppard Hotel is another part of a larger effort of the Israeli government to promote the Judaization of the eastern city, sometimes directly and sometimes through settlers," he said.
According to Margalit, "The goal is to take over as many properties in the eastern city as possible, in a bid to create a situation in which most of the area could be claimed as Jewish according to the Clinton outline (under which in the event of a peace agreement and land exchange, areas where there is a Jewish majority will remain in Jewish hands, and vice versa).
"The Americans understand that there is a broad strategic plan here, whose purpose is to change the demographic balance in the area. They therefore ant to stop it before it's too late," he concluded.