Since its birth, the State of Israel kept disposing Arab Landowners off their lands under different so-called justifications: expropriation for public purposes, confiscation under the law on properties for absentees, expropriation under the law of land purchase (imposed by the government), expropriations under the laws on planning and building. All these confiscations aimed to legalize the justification of the disposition, the eviction of the property from the legal owner/possessor, to prevent or to minimize, in the best case, the ability of the Arab owner to develop his land. Consequently, the state practices led to the assignment/transfer of the land to Jewish settlements and Jewish development. Arabs kept behind without the land, lacking the governmental support, the budgets, the developments and suffering a severe discrimination in the governmental allocation of lands for development!
After the June 1967 War, the Israeli government applied the Israeli law on the huge area of the occupied east Jerusalem. It applied the same policy and the same practices. Soon after the application of the laws, the minister of finance advertised a notification for his intent to expropriate huge areas, mainly unbuilt areas, for public purposes. He did that to prevent Arab owners develop the land and minimize the areas where Arabs (protected persons) may expand and develop. The minister of finance made the advertisements of the notifications for his intent to expropriate land on several stages and it included a total area of about 40 thousand dunums (about 40 million square meters). The Israeli government allocated most of these areas for the development of Jewish settlements, parks, commercial areas, hotels, housing projects (for Jews!), industrial areas, etc. however, it is most obvious and stalling to attention that the Israeli government and or competent authority never allocated any of the expropriated areas for any Arab development. Thus says the whole story. The Enlightened world stood and continues to stand aside; passive to these practices and from time to time pays lips tax! Israel interprets it as passive support to continue to push and repress Arabs to small and narrow areas to replace them to settle Jews and create political facts on the ground.
One of the victims of the above-mentioned practices are the Arab Hotels company in East Jerusalem: the company initiated and registered during the Jordanian rule over Jerusalem. The aims of the company are to develop and operate hotels. To obtain and achieve its goals in 1961/2 the company purchased an area of 39 dunums (known as Karem Elmofti) in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The purchaser and the seller completed the sale/purchase process in presence of the commissioner of Land who authenticated and registered the company in the sheet of claims as to the sole and only claimant of the whole area. The Israeli commissioner of land settlement holds these sheets. However, in 1970 about 31 dunums out of the 39 were part of a huge area that was included in the 1970 expropriation for the so-called public purposes. The remaining area of eight dunums with an old building was used as a school; in 1983, the school evacuated the building and returned t back to the company. In 1983, the competent authority for town planning designated the area of 31 dunums part for a park and another part for educational buildings (school), and another part for public buildings with an area of over 20,000 square meters. Israel's land administration transferred the possession of this area to the Jerusalem Municipality. Yet the municipality did not build any of the areas designated for school despite the need and lack of classes!!
In 1997 the company initiated a town planning scheme to develop the 39 dunums, for hotels, public areas, cultural centers, etc. Israel's land administration opposed this initiation. Then after a long process and negotiations, the company initiated a new plan to develop the remaining area of eight dunums.
In 2017, the municipality announced an advertisement for her intention to expropriate the eight dunums for public purposes under the claim that they plan to build a school in this area. Yet no detailed plan was there! Note that the municipality did not build the planned school on the area that the Israel Land administration assigned to the Municipality.
Two years after the advertisement the municipality initiate a court case against the company and against the tenant of the old building to evict them from the eight dunums for the immediate need of the municipality for the area to build a school! The company submitted an objection with the arguments that yet the municipality did not build what she can build, according to the existing town planning scheme, however, if yet the municipality did not initiate any town planning scheme she is far to reach the stage of the immediate need to possess and build, thus the court should give the company the chance to defend its arguments. While ignoring most of the evidence submitted by the company the court accepted the Municipality application and ordered the eviction of the tenant and the company from the old building and the area of the eight dunums.
During the period 2019 until the date of the decision Israel land administration initiated negotiation with the municipality to bring it to annul, the expropriation, accept the plans submitted by the company and released the eight dunums for the company use as part of the compensation of the expropriated area. The municipality is the long arm of the "settlers" who occupy neighboring property dismissed the proposals of Israel land administration and requested several privileges that were impossible for Israel's land administration to accept!
Now we stand in a position that the Municipality will act to execute the eviction as of May 29! Despite the fact that the company submitted an appeal to the high court. the appeal is set for hearing on May 16th, 2022! The company has no space to operate her business! The company will be obliged to release all its employees for lack of space to operate. About fifty families will have no income!!
The municipality does not need the area of eight dunums, the decision is political comply with the aggressive government policy in Jerusalem to dispose Arabs from their properties to create political facts. Israel Courts are biased and serve the policy.
I request your help and effective interference to stop the Israel violation of basic human rights of protected persons under occupation.
· The writer is the owner of the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah area.