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Government will be able to sell Palestinian property in E. J´lem (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Meron Rapoport 01/30/05)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/533479.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The government will be able to sell or lease Palestinian property in East Jerusalem confiscated under the Absentee Property Law, according to the cabinet decision on the matter, a full version of which was obtained by Haaretz.

This means it will be possible to build Jewish neighborhoods on Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem.

Decision No. 2297 of July 8, 2004, says the government has decided "to remove all doubt that the Custodian has the authority vested in clause 19 of the Absentee Property Law, including to transfer, sell or lease real estate property in East Jerusalem to the Development Authority." The Development Authority is a quasi- governmental body with the power to sell land for construction or any other purpose.

Haaretz reported last week that the government secretly decided to implement the 1950 Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem, even though previous governments had refrained from doing so since 1967, following the attorney general´s directive.

The law will apply to West Bank residents who own lands in East Jerusalem and stand to lose them without compensation after working them for the past 37 years. Palestinian geographer Khalil Tufakji estimates that more than half of all East Jerusalem property belongs in one way or another to West Bank residents, enabling the state to seize assets worth millions of dollars.

Attorney Daniel Seidemann, who represents a group of Bethlehem residents and the Ir Amim organization, sent a letter to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz yesterday saying that the full version of the government decision clearly indicates that the purpose of declaring absentee property in East Jerusalem is "taking private Palestinian- owned property and turning it into future state property destined to be transfered to third parties the government of Israel seeks to bolster."

Seidemann is concerned that seized property will be used for building Jewish neighborhoods in southern Jerusalem, and he calls on Mazuz to freeze the declaration of absentee property immediately so as not to cause Palestinian landholders irreparable damage.

Seidemann said he has reliable information that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon intends to hold a discussion shortly on the future of Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, including settlement in the Old City´s Muslim Quarter. Sharon´s bureau said no such meeting is scheduled for this week. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 01/30/05)

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