Concluding month, and coinciding with United States President Joe Biden’southward visit to Jerusalem, the Haifa-based Adalah Legal Center released a study detailing how land designated for a planned United states of america embassy was actually owned past Palestinians before it was stolen by State of israel following the Nakba of 1948.
The descendants of the original owners include Palestinian residents of E Jerusalem, as well equally Palestinian Americans. Adalah, along with these descendants, shared in their report original documents serving as proof of ownership of the property in Jerusalem. The parties take demanded that the Biden administration cancels the plan to build a embassy on stolen country.
The revelations and the struggle of Palestinians to reclaim their land feel personal to me. They echo a similar battle for our by that my grandfather – and many others – waged.
Afterwards 1948, Israel legalised the systematic theft of Palestinian homes and properties in West Jerusalem, in particular through the Absentee Belongings Police. That 1950 legislation alleged Nakba refugees “absentees” even if they were in the eastern function of Jerusalem and immune the Israeli government’s Custodian of Absentee Property to take over their holding.
Back and then, the Americans themselves recognised this fact in a cablevision sent by the US consul general in Jerusalem in December 1948. The consul general wrote to the Usa secretary of state, stating that Israel was trying to “eliminate” the possibility of Palestinian refugees returning domicile, in defiance of a United Nations resolution passed earlier that calendar month and supported by the US.
My family was one of the many Palestinian families that were denied the correct to our homes in Jerusalem’s west side.
Before Israel, my grandad owned a house in al-Qatamon, a mod and affluent neighbourhood of Jerusalem, located 2km (1.two miles) due south of the Onetime City. Established in 1860, Al-Qatamon included 204 Palestinian homes on land that spanned twenty hectares (49 acres). It was established to adapt middle to upper-class Jerusalemite families who institute life within the walls of the Old City likewise crowded.
The population of the neighbourhood was mainly Muslim and Christian, along with a few foreign families who lived there during the time of the British Mandate. Growing upwardly, Palestinian author and doctor Ghada Karmi brought al-Qatamon alive for me through her 2002 memoir, In Search of Fatima. In her book, Karmi described her family’southward stone house and its garden full of citrus and olive trees. Karmi and her family were forced out of the neighbourhood when she was eight years old, during the Nakba.
Later, I came to hold documents that my grandfather and male parent had carefully kept, proving the ownership of our house in al-Qatamon. The papers showed that my granddaddy had registered the belongings on April 21, 1939. He had bought information technology from some other Palestinian Jerusalemite family, the Zmourrods.
Everything changed in 1948, post-obit my family unit’s expulsion to East Jerusalem. My grandpa, though just 1km (0.half dozen miles) abroad from al-Qatamon, was suddenly an “absentee” under Israeli law.
The land registry deeds in my hands showed how on July 28, 1957, the Custodian for Absentee Property sold my family’southward house to State of israel’s Development Authorization, and then it could be taken over by new Jewish tenants. The same land registry deeds that listed my grandfather equally the owner of this holding now had another party selling it abroad.
In 1970, the Israeli Knesset passed the Legal and Administrative Matters Law, which effectively meant that Jewish owners who had to flee their belongings in Due east Jerusalem in 1948 would not exist considered “absentees” in the then-newly occupied part of the metropolis. They could return to claim their homes. That same law, however, did not extend like benefits to East Jerusalem residents who once endemic property in West Jerusalem. Those Palestinians, like my grandfather, remained “absentees”.
Still, my grandfather decided he wanted to claim his home. On March 28, 1972, as a resident of a Jerusalem “unified” under Israeli dominance, he wrote a letter to the Custodian of Absentee Property. He requested that his house exist returned to him since he was now a resident of Jerusalem and no longer “absent”. He finished his letter with these emphatic words: “This firm is my private property and no one else has whatever connection with it.”
Well-nigh a calendar month later, the Custodian of Absentee Property in Jerusalem wrote back, citing the Absentee Property Law as crusade to plow downwardly my grandfather’s plea.
With the documents in my hand, and relying on what my father knew, I pinpointed the verbal location of the house and took my dad for a visit in the summertime of 2021. Nosotros were not surprised to find it was still at that place, and that information technology was occupied by a Jewish Israeli family. The edifice had two extra stories added on meridian of the original one-storey house. Everywhere I looked in the neighbourhood, I saw evidence of our Palestinian existence, and I felt the heartache of our erasure.
The 1970 police enabled Jewish groups to claim buying of belongings in E Jerusalem, almost prominently in the areas of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan. To appointment, Palestinians displaced by Israel do not bask that right in West Jerusalem.
As Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and other neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem face eviction orders in favour of Jewish settlement, I cannot stop thinking about the sheer injustice of it all.
They merits Jerusalem is an undivided city, yet there are two laws governing 2 peoples in the most unequal manner. They claim nosotros accept rights, yet I believe they merely tolerate our being. We lack the right to vote, the right to housing, the right to holding – and with our ancestral homes stolen, the correct to our history.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial opinion.