The Palestine Monitor
A PNGO Information Clearinghouse
Plans for Massive Israeli Land-grab in East Jerusalem Come to Light
27 January 2005
A secret July 2004 Israeli cabinet decision, which has only recently been
publicized, is intended to steal hundreds of acres of East Jerusalem
property worth hundreds of millions of dollars from their rightful owners
who live in the West Bank.
The decision intends to dust off the long-shelved and highly suspect
‘Absentee Property Law,’ which Israel passed in 1950 to expropriate the land
of Palestinians who were forced to flee from their homes when Israel was
founded in 1948. People whose property is expropriated under this law have
no hope of appeal or compensation.
Many of the so-called ‘absentees’ whose land will be transferred to the
State of Israel live only a few meters from their land, separated from it by
Israel’s illegal Annexation Wall. Their names and addresses are well known,
and their property deeds prove their rightful ownership.
Former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, the leader of the Yahad party,
equated the application of the 54-year-old law to property theft.
While Israel has claimed repeatedly that the Wall is only a temporary
‘security’ measure, the current decision to annex the Palestinian land
sliced away from the West Bank by the Wall is a smoking gun; it is strong
evidence that the Wall is intended for permanent annexation purposes and to
impose facts on the ground tantamount to de facto borders.
Such unilateral actions effectively negate the possibility for meaningful
negotiations related to final-status issues in the future. They are
devastatingly damaging to prospects for peace and in direct contravention of
Specifically, the fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a high
contracting party, states that “Any destruction and/or confiscation by the
occupying power of real or personal property belonging individually or
collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public
authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited.”
The lead editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on January 21, 2005,
called the decision “theft as well as an act of state stupidity of the
highest order.” The Jewish Voice for Peace accused the Sharon government of
“doing everything it can to exacerbate tensions with the Palestinians.”
We call on the Israeli government to rescind this law immediately, and we
call on the international community to take unequivocal measures to condemn
and stop the theft of Palestinian lands by Israel. In the current delicate
climate, while the Palestinian Authority is attempting to negotiate an end
to violence in Gaza, such outrageous measures severely frustrate prospects
for peace and justice and damage hopes for global stability and security.
Such basic injustices reduce prospects for a fair negotiated solution and
can only lead to more conflict and bloodshed on both sides of the Green