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Israeli Theft of Palestinian Property

By Stephen Lendman, OpEdNews, 7 January 2010

Adalah, meaning justice in Arabic, is the legal center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel advocating through Israeli Supreme Court petitions; lawsuits and appeals to the District, Magistrate and Labor Courts; pre-petitions to the Attorney General; and various other ways to serve its constituency in a nation where only Jews have rights.

It also prepares publications and reports on vital issues of concern to Palestinians, including two recent ones on the theft of their property, an ongoing international law violation since Israel's "War of Independence" - a six-month atrocity that expelled about 800,000 people, massacred many others, destroyed 531 villages, 11 urban neighborhoods in cities like Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, and stole 78% of historic Palestine as the first step toward seizing it all for exclusive Jewish use.

For over 60 years, Israel has done it ruthlessly, incrementally, systematically, and illegally, intending at most to leave Palestinians cantonized and surrounded in the least valued portions, the rest being exclusively for Jews.

This writer addressed Israel's discriminatory land policies in a previous article, part of which is repeated below as an introduction to what follows.

Shortly after its "War of Independence," laws were passed to legitimize Palestinian land seizures for exclusive Jewish use.

The June 1948 Abandoned Areas Ordinance referred to "any area or place conquered by or surrendered to armed forces or deserted by all or part of its inhabitants." It gave the Israeli government exclusive jurisdiction rights, including "expropriation and confiscation (authority over) movable and immovable property, within any abandoned area." It meant displaced Palestinians were prohibited from returning and claiming their property that by law was no longer theirs.

The September 1948 Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance stated that "Any law applying to the whole of the State of Israel" applies as well "to the whole of the area including....any part of Palestine which the Minister of Defence has defined by proclamation as being held by the Defence Army of Israel." It meant that Palestinians lost all rights and were subject to whatever laws Israel enacted.

In March 1950, the Absentees' Property Law (ABL) defined an absentee as:

"a person who, at any time during the period between (November 29, 1947) and (May 19, 1948) has ceased to exist (and no longer) was a legal owner of any property situated in the area of Israel...."

The ABL transfered property owner rights to a Custodian of Absentee Property. It made him liable to the real owner for the value, but prohibited the return of his land. Israeli law assured that Palestinians remaining in Israel, relocated and declared "Absentees," no longer were rightful owners of their own property.

In July 1950, The Development Authority (Transfer of Property) Law was a legal ploy to shield Israel from being accused of having confiscated abandoned Palestinian land and whatever was on it.

The Development Authority (DA) was established as an independent body to buy, sell, lease, exchange, repair, build, develop and/or cultivate seized property. Henceforth, only transactions between Jews or a Jewish entity were allowed. It was understood that "under no circumstances should the (expelled) Arabs return to Israel."

In July 1960, Israel Lands Administration Law established an "Israel Lands Administration (ILA)." At the same time, Israel's Basic Law affirms that "ownership of Israel Lands, being the lands in Israel of the State, the Development Authority or the Keren Kayemet Le-Israel (KKL - Jewish National Fund, JNF), shall not be transferred either by sale or in any other manner." Lands were defined to mean "land, houses, buildings and any thing permanently fixed to land."

On its web site, the ILA states that it controls 93% of Israeli land as "public domain; that is, either property of the state, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) or the Development Authority (DA)." The ILA "is the government agency responsible for managing this land which comprises 4,820,500 acres (19,508,000 dunams). 'Ownership' of real estate usually means leasing rights from the ILA for 49 or 98 years."

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