Descendants of grand mufti want to build peace and coexistence center on Shepherd´s Hotel land (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Akiva Eldar 04/02/12)
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-Top
The descendents of Haj Amin al-Husseini, who led terror attacks on
the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine and collaborated with the
Nazis while serving as mufti of Jerusalem, would like to build a
peace and coexistence center for Arabs and Israelis on land the mufti
The family is seeking, at least in part, to keep the land from being
used to house settlers.
The land, on which the Shepherd´s Hotel in East Jerusalem was later
built, was sold by Israel´s Custodian of Absentee Property, and ended
up in the hands of U.S. businessman Irving Moskowitz, known for his
support of settlers.
The mufti´s granddaughter, Muna Husseini, a 45-year-old U.S. citizen
who lives in England, arrived from London Sunday ahead of a High
Court of Justice hearing over the nine-dunam compound in the Sheikh
Jarrah area of East Jerusalem.
Muna Husseini told Haaretz that the Husseini family, which still
claims ownership of the land, had conveyed its proposal for a
coexistence center to Moskowitz, who rebuffed it.
She said the family wants to donate the land to the cause of the
advancement of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, and is
also seeking to prevent the establishment of a settlement there.
Muna Husseini said Husseini descendents living in the United States,
Canada and Australia have reported the family´s proposal to their
governments and have warned that the establishment of a Jewish
neighborhood on the land will increase controversy in the city.
The 18 grandchildren of Haj Amin al-Husseini, one of the most
prominent Arab leaders in Mandatory Palestine, have decided jointly
to give up their rights to the land, which they believe were not
abrogated by the custodian´s sale of the land, and say they are
expecting Israel to turn the compound into a symbol of peace.
Israel Prize-winning sculptor Dani Karavan has volunteered to build
an artistic installation at the site that will symbolize the desire
for peace, together with Israeli and Palestinian artists.
The Jerusalem municipality´s 2009 decision to allow a Jewish
neighborhood to go up on the site sparked harsh criticism of Israel
in the United States and the European Union. Washington demanded that
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stop the project on the grounds
that it disrupted the demographic balance in East Jerusalem and
thwarted efforts to renew negotiations with the Palestinians.
In a petition to the High Court of Justice in early 2011, Husseini
said the Custodian of Absentee Property did not have the right to
sell the land, because the absentee property law was not intended to
apply to East Jerusalem. The petition also claimed the lot was sold
without a tender and without due process to a company that transfered
the rights to the Ateret Cohanim association, which sold the land to
a California company called C&M Properties, owned by Moskowitz.
The High Court agreed to discuss the question of ownership. The
petition states that the Husseini family plot was rented out at the
beginning of the 1960s and that the Shepherd´s Hotel was subsequently
built on it.
The hotel was demolished last year.
According to Mona Husseini, the Custodian of Absentee Property
rejected a request by the Husseini family in the early 1980s to
purchase the land.
The State Prosecutor´s Office has asked the High Court to reject the
Husseini family petition on the grounds that it was not submitted in
a timely fashion and that the law on absentee property was enacted
before East Jerusalem was annexed and does apply to absentee land in
the territories. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/02/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY