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Israel delays controversial Palestinian eviction hearing in East Jerusalem

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Palestinians singing during a protest in east Jerusalem on Friday
Palestinians singing during a protest in east Jerusalem on Friday   -   Copyright  AP
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A controversial Israeli court hearing on plans to evict a group of Palestinians in East Jerusalem was postponed on Sunday after the attorney-general asked to defer the case.

The Israeli Supreme Court was due on Monday to hear an appeal against the evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in the city.

But Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s office said the court had agreed to accept a future submission from him, with his intervention reversing an earlier Israeli government pledge to stay out of what it described as a "private property dispute".

Nahalat Shimon, a pro-settler organisation, has sought to use a 1970 law to argue that prior to 1948, the owners of the land were Jewish families and therefore the property should be restored to Israeli Jews, despite Palestinians calling the area home.

A lower court had backed Jewish settlers’ claim to the land. But now, with the attorney general's intervention, the Supreme Court is expected to schedule a new hearing within 30 days.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in a 1967 war and subsequently annexed the whole city as its capital, but its claim is not internationally recognised.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Sheikh Jarrah case had fuelled tensions in Jerusalem, which has seen violent clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in recent days.

On Monday, dozens of people were injured after a clash between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police broke out at a Jerusalem holy site.

According to the Palestinian medics, more than 180 Palestinians were injured after fighting broke out at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, with 80 people having to be hospitalised.

Officers were accused of firing tear gas and stun grenades at worshippers, with some of the projectiles landing in the mosque.

Meanwhile, police said protesters threw stones at officers and onto an adjoining roadway.

In a statement, Israeli police claimed that "extremists" were behind the violence, as they vowed “not allow extremists to harm the safety and security of the public".

The UN Security Council is expected to hold closed consultations on Monday to discuss the rising tensions in Jerusalem.