26 July 2006

When Theft Is Conducted With An [Israeli] Court Order

When Theft Is Conducted With An [Israeli] Court Order

It did happen that the Israeli "absentee property guardian" rejected the alienation of property in Jerusalem to an Arab who purchased the land from its legitimate owners in Beit Jala (the West Bank.) And there is a chance that the same thing may happen again in the future. But it is a serious precedent that an Israeli judge in Jerusalem allows the alienation of the same property to a bank owned primarily by Jewish fundamentalists under the pretense that the owners of the property are unknown. The seriousness of this judge's ruling took the case to the Israeli Central Court.

Hajj Isa Elayyan from Beit Safafa, an Arab Israeli citizen since Israel took over Beit Safafa in 1948; purchased a 10 dunum parcel of land in 1972 (a dunum is 835 sq. yard.) The land is located in the village of Beit Safafa (1948 area.) Elayyan purchased the land from AlAraj family who were living in Beit Jala (near Bethlehem, 1967 area.) When Elayyan attempted to register the land in his name, the Israeli authorities refused and told Elayyan that "since the original owners do not have the Jerusalemite - Israeli- identity, no transfer of ownership is allowed." The son, Waleed Elayyan, said that the Israeli "absentee property guardian" claimed that "since the original owners of the property were residents of the West Bank, they are considered as absentees and they, therefore, could not sell their land in Beit Safafa."

Elayyan's efforts to find a way in the Israeli courts and laws to transfer the property to him was futile. Though, he maintained the lot which is located opposite to the famous Canyon Mall in Beit Safafa through out the years.

In 1995, Elayyan discovered that a Jewish by the name of Saul Cohen managed to transfer the title of 2 dunums adjacent to Elayyan's lot, the other part of a larger lot owned by AlAraj family. The two dunum lot was also under the authority of the Israeli "absentee property guardian." "After verification, we realized that the 'absentee property guardian' allowed the transfer of the ownership to Cohen;" Elayyan said. Based on this, Elayyan decided to go to court against the Israeli "absentee property guardian" who allowed property transfer to Cohen but refused it for him. Elayyan's logic was that he and Cohen are both Israeli citizens and they should be treated equally under the Israeli laws.

But the disaster for Elayyan came after Judge Yael Tzor took with the advice of Cohen of selling the entire lot in the area (the 2 dunums of Cohen and the 10 dunums of Elayyan.) Cohen claimed that he did not know where his 2 dunums are located in the whole lot and that he wanted to erect a commercial project on the land that he owned.

According to Elayyan, Judge Tzor ordered the sale of the land and published a small ad in the court hall, but not in all main newspapers as mandated. Elayyan's land was sold to Bank Mizrachi at $500,000 US. After deducting unpaid property taxes of $350,000; Elayyan was left with $150,000 for his 10 dunums. According to Elayyan, the very same court of Tzor previously assessed his land at $3.5 million. So, Cohen managed to get a title for the 2 dunums in his name.
Elayyan thinks that the ruling of the Israeli Judge was very serious not only because it discriminated against Arabs and Jews but aslo because the Israeli Judge did not publish the auction note in newspapers and was satisfied with publishing it in the court hall.

Elayyan took the case further against Judge Tzor, the Israeli "absentee property guardian," and Saul Cohen to the Israeli Central Court. At this point, the Israeli "absentee property guardian" claims that the file of the land is "lost." The Central Court commenced its precedings last Tuesday and there seems to be no way of predicting its ruling.

Many Jews merely claim that they owned certain properties in East Jerusalem since the 20s and the 30s. And considering the counterfeiting and the illegal acts of land dealers as well as the abuse of the Israeli "absentee property guardian," it is rather difficult for the legitimate property owners to recover their properties or sell them. Despite the peace agreements with Jordan and the Palestinians, Israel has not canceled or changed the Absentee Property Law because thousands of Arabs will be able to recover [or be compensated for] their lost properties that Jews took over. (Al-Ayyam www.al-ayyam.com Feb. 17, 1998).

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