Israeli Attorney General Approves E. Jerusalem Land Grab

An article in Ha’aretz Jan. 30 says that Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has approved the government’s application of its 1950 Absentee Property Law to confiscate about one half of Palestinian-owned land in East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinians who live elsewhere in the West Bank and are cut off from their lands by the Separation Wall are having their lands and property seized on the grounds that they don’t live in Israel. Israel plans to redistribute the confiscated land to Jews only. The decision was made secretly by the government in July. The Absentee law stipulates that those whose land is confiscated have no right to appeal the action, nor any right to compensation. According to the lawyer representing some of those who are losing property, Israel plans to colonize E. Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter as well.

E. Jerusalem is part of the West Bank, according to all international measures, but Israel illegally annexed it in 1967 and has proceeded to Judaize the city. 178,500 Israeli Jews live illegally in E. Jerusalem, but they are not labeled "settlers" by the Israeli government, and not given the tax breaks, subsidies and status that Jews colonizing the rest of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip get. Hence few think of themselves as doing something in violation of international law and convention, and recognized by no other government besides Israel’s as being legitimate. Few Israelis even know where the Green Line, the 1967 armistice line separating Israel from occupied Palestinian territory, is located. They are not shown maps of the Green Line in school, it does not exist in tourist guides sold in stores, and on Israel’s most popular website, Walla, the interactive map not only doesn’t show the Green Line, but does not show Palestinian cities, just Israeli ones, and settlements. Despite this act of erasure, or politicide, the fact that Palestinian maps frequently don’t show Israel is often cited as Palestinian "incitement."

No one in Israel’s centrist Labor party has condemned this latest land grab, nor has any foreign government. Henry Seigman, formerly president of the American Jewish Congress, calls it "theft" in the IHT and writes: "It sounds too unjust, too evil, to be true, particularly for a Jewish state that considers its very existence a living reproach to the German people, and to the world, for the injustices and suffering inflicted on the Jewish people. But the details of Israel’s manipulations of the legal system and its theft of Palestinian lands are described in the Israeli media for all to read and see." Seigman does not explain why a Jewish state would be expected to behave any better than any other nation-state.

The Israeli Border Police commander responsible for the area around Jerusalem announced plans to clear a 500-meter wide "security strip" on each side of the Wall in the Jerusalem area. This will include demolishing 74 buildings in the neighborhood of al-Muntar in the Palestinian village of Tzur Baher.

According to Amira Hass, Israel also plans to refuse to allow free passage for Palestinians between E. Jerusalem and Ramallah without a permit, which will further cut the city off from the rest of the West Bank.

See our last post on Israeli land grabs in the Occupied Territories.