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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Palileaks: Jews have rights to land in Judea, Samaria and Gaza

Here's a document that al-Guardian and al-Jazeera - the two sites that published the Palileaks documents - chose not to highlight. And it's a doozer. It's described as
Draft memorandum from NSU [Negotiation Support Unit. CiJ] to Palestinian Negotiating Team that discusses options for dealing with property claims of Jews within the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) acquired before the beginning of the occupation, covering Ottoman and British periods, Jordanian Rule of the West Bank and Egyptian rule of Gaza.
It lives up to its billing (Hat Tip: Elder of Ziyon).
Jews who were habitually resident before 1948 in the areas that became the OPT enjoy a right of return. It should be noted that the right of return extends not only to those persons who held the nationality of the prior sovereign, but also to persons who had a substantial connection to the prior state and who, therefore, were entitled to its nationality.3 The right also extends to the descendents of such Jews.

Furthermore, the right of return is separate and distinct from any property right the holder may also enjoy.4 That is, a person may have a right of return even if he does not own property in the home country. Conversely, a person may not necessarily enjoy a right of return even if he owns property in the country.

As of 1948, there were 500,000 to 600,000 Jews in Palestine. Most of them were not nationals of Palestine. Of the 400,000 or so Jews who immigrated to Palestine between the two World Wars, 100,000 were naturalized. So, probably fewer than half of pre-1948 Jews were nationals, but most were probably permanent residents.5 According to international law, Such Jewish Palestinian nationals or permanent residents have a right of residency in the future Palestinian state if they were residents of the areas that became Gaza and the WB.
What they're trying to do throughout this document is to take the same questionable legal principles that have turned millions of 'Palestinians' into 'refugees' with a 'right of return' and to apply them to Jews who lived in Judea, Samaria and Gaza before 1948. Given that pretense, I don't see why only 100,000 of the 400,000 Jews who immigrated to the Palestine mandate between the two World Wars should be deemed 'naturalized.' For 'Palestinians,' the rule is that anyone who had a home in the Palestine mandate between 1946-48 is considered a 'refugee' as are all that persons descendants.
While the initial displacement and dispossession of Jews pre-1948 was the result of a war with, and, later, the policies of, Jordan and Egypt, Palestine, as the successor state, will be responsible for providing remedies for some of the losses sustained by the Jews to the extent that the substance of the loss is within Palestine’s control. Specifically, if asked, Palestine will be under an obligation to allow the return of the Jews who were displaced, and to restore Jewish property that is located within Palestine or compensate Jewish owners for the loss of this property. Palestine would not be responsible for compensating Jews for other material losses, like lost profits or income, or for non-material losses; these would be required from Egypt and Jordan.

As mentioned above, in spite of Israel's recognition of the right of pre-1948 Jewish owners to regain the property they left in East Jerusalem, most of them had to make do with monetary compensation in lieu of the property. With regard to Jewish property in Gaza and the rest of the West Bank, the Israeli authorities' practice has been not to release the property, but to continue administering it. To some extent, then, Israel has addressed the rights of Jews dispossessed in 1948 by recognising their right of repossession and compensating them when it expropriated their properties. To the extent that Israel has done so, the future Palestinian state is therefore relieved of the responsibility. However, under international law, the right of displaced persons to return to their country is not defeated by an offer of compensation, so those rights of displaced Jews may survive, and Palestine may be obligated to implement the right of return that Israel did not.6
Of course, this would mean that the 'Palestinian state' would probably not be Judenrein as the 'Palestinians' continually tell us they wish it to be.
In 1940, in response to Arab concerns regarding Jewish land ownership in Palestine, the British introduced restrictions on land transfers to Jews. Pursuant to the Palestine (Amendment) Order-in-Council of 25 May 1939, the High Commissioner was authorized to prohibit and regulate land transfers.23 Acting on these powers, the High Commissioner adopted the Land Transfer Regulations, 1940, which established three zones: Zone A (16,680 km2), where land could generally not be transferred except to Palestinian Arabs; Zone B (8,348 km2), where land transfers from Arabs to Jews required permission that was generally withheld; and land outside Zones A and B (1, 292 km2), which could be freely transferred.24 According to the hand-drawn map annexed to the Regulations, what became Gaza and the West Bank was entirely Zone A, meaning that land transfers to Jews were, with few exceptions, prohibited.25 Britain apparently repealed these Regulations upon the termination of its Mandate (12 May 1948).26
Obviously, this is all far worse than today's efforts to keep neighborhoods all religious or not religious, Jewish or Arab.
The Custodian/ Commissioner was legally authorised to restore property to its Jewish owners, but the Israeli authorities' practice in the West Bank and Gaza has been not to release property, but to continue administering it. This property has occasionally been used for Israeli settlements in the OPT. At times, willingness was also expressed to take into consideration the injury to the original owners by allocating alternative lands for their use at a low rent. However, the policy of not releasing the property to its original owners and continuing its administration by the authorities has been strictly observed.46

Attempts made by Israeli citizens to have their rights to such property restored have failed,47 and such property has remained in the possession and management of the Custodian of Government Property.
But the 'Palestinians' have just admitted that at least some of the 'settlements' were built on land that is owned by Jews and therefore cannot be regarded as 'occupied territory.' The document lists some of that land.
Little land was purchased by Jews during the Ottoman period in Gaza and the West Bank.50

* One important exception was land located on Mount Scopus, which was purchased from a British national in 1916. Boris Goldberg, a member of Lovers of Zion, paid for the land and took title in his name.51 He gifted the land to the JNF, which gave a 999-year lease to Hebrew University.52 Additional land was purchased on Mount Scopus from Raghib al-Nashashibi, Mayor of Jerusalem, and was used for the Hebrew University. Hadassah Hospital was also built on land purchased on Mount Scopus.53


In Gaza, the JNF did not purchase any major parcels of land. By 1946, the JNF acquired 72,300 dunums in the Gaza district, which encompassed more than present-day Gaza.58

* In 1930, a Jewish farmer from Rehovot, Tuvia Miller, bought 262 dunums of land in Dayr al-Balah in the Gaza sub-district. Miller eventually sold his land to the JNF in the early 1940s. The JNF then allowed settlers from the religious Ha-Poel ha-Mizrahi movement to build the kibbutz of Kfar Darom on the land in October 1946. They abandoned the kibbutz in June 1948.59
* Stein reports a purchase of 4,048 dunums in Huj (Gaza sub-district) in 1935 but does not indicate the identity of the Jewish purchaser.60 Note, however, that the Palestine Partition Commission reported that, by 1938, only 3,300 dunums in Gaza were owned by Jews.61
* In 1941, 6,373 dunums were purchased by the JNF around Gaza City, though it is unknown whether the purchase was permissible under the Land Transfer Regulations 1940.62
What they don't mention here is that Jews re-established Kfar Darom after the 1967 War, and it continued to exist until 2005 when the Sharon government expelled all the Jews from Gaza.
The government of Palestine estimated a population of 3,540 Jews in the Gaza sub-district at the end of 1946. Information has not been found on the circumstances under which these Jews departed from Gaza in 1948.63
In the case of the West Bank, Shehadeh gives a figure of 30,000 dunums owned by Jews by 1948. During the 1920s and 1930s, the JNF did not seek land in the West Bank because it was not close to other tracts of land it had already purchased and because the West Bank was not as suitable for agriculture. The only substantial parcels purchased or leased in the West Bank were in or around Jerusalem.64

* There were Jewish settlements north of Jerusalem called Atarot and Neve Yaakov, which were evacuated in 1948.65
* A settlement called Bet Haarava, and Palestine Potash, Ltd., both located at the northern end of the Dead Sea, were situated on miri land leased by the government of Palestine and were evacuated in 1948.66
* During the 1920s and 1930s, individual Jews and two Jewish-owned realty companies, Zikhron David and El Hahar, bought land in the hills around Hebron.67 Notwithstanding (and, actually, because of) the Land Transfer Regulations, 1940, which placed nearly all of the West Bank in Zone A, the JNF began purchasing land around Hebron in 1940. It acquired about 8,400 dunums by 1947, some of which was purchased from individual Jews and from Zikhron David and El Hahar. The settlements established on this land were called Kfar Etzion, Masuot Yitzhak, Ein Tzurim and Revadim. The JNF circumvented the prohibition on acquisition of land by Jews by creating front companies. Most of the Jewish-owned land around Hebron was held, as of 1948, by the JNF rather than by individual Jewish owners.68
* Some 16,000 dunums of land were purchased by Jews before 1948 in the Etzion Bloc and Beit Hadassah.69
* Himnuta bought land near Jericho and present-day Ma’ale Adumim. The funding in urban areas usually came from state coffers, while the purchase of agricultural land was paid for by the JNF.70

During the British mandate, the government of Palestine leased miri land on a long-term basis (50 or 100 years) to Jewish settlement organisations.71

By 1948, the concentrations of lands owned by Jews were in the old Jewish quarters of Jerusalem and Hebron, on the periphery of Jerusalem, and in the Tul-Karem region and the Gaza Strip.72

* Apparently, 80% of Har Homa’s [Jabal Abu Ghneim’s] land is Jewish land purchased in the forties and before.73
That would be the same Har Homa that the 'Palestinians' told Olmert they could not 'give' him during the negotiations between them in the fall of 2008.

They then go on to give legal arguments why it's okay to dispossess the Jews. This one is rich:
Recent arrival of displaced Jews. The right of return is ordinarily invoked by a long-term population, as the basis for a right of return is a strong link to one’s country. It may be said that the Jews living in Gaza/WB pre-1948 were, in the main, recent arrivals who did not have the requisite connection to the land to be entitled to a right of return. In fact, the Balfour Declaration acknowledged that they did not, by stating the advisability of establishing a national home for the Jews.81
That's pretty funny because the 'Palestinian' claim to land in Israel is based on having lived in the British mandate between 1946-48, which is not exactly long-term.

Read the whole thing.

So why would al-Jazeera and al-Guardian not highlight this? Hmmm....

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At 5:56 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Let's not forget that 90% of British Mandate Palestine was owned by the Mandatory Government - very little was owned by Arabs. The establishment of Israel did not change this picture.


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