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ACRI: Rethink Arab land seizure decision (JERUSALEM POST) By DAN IZENBERG 01/31/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107055730103&p=1078027574097 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on Sunday called on the government to cancel a secret decision made in July to seize property in east Jerusalem belonging to Palestinians living outside the city limits.

"The application of the Absentee Property Law to property in east Jerusalem and the [outlying Palestinian] villages which were annexed to Israel constitutes a severe and disproportionate injury to the right of ownership, freedom of occupation and the right to live in dignity of the property owners," wrote ACRI legal adviser Dan Yakir to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz.

According to media reports, the cabinet decided on July 8 to seize the property belonging to Palestinians and others not residing in Jerusalem and hand it over to the Custodian of Absentee Properties in accordance with a law passed in 1950. The Prime Minister´s Office declined to answer a series of questions put to it by The Jerusalem Post.

The daily Haaretz, which got hold of the secret decision over the weekend, wrote that it enables the custodian, in accordance with clause 19 of the Absentee Property Law, to transfer, sell or lease real estate property in east Jerusalem to the Development Authority.

Jerusalem lawyer Daniel Seidemann learned about the cabinet decision when he was informed that olive orchards on the Israeli side of the Jerusalem boundary that belonged to his clients from Bethlehem no longer belonged to them.

"It seems that someone thought it best to keep the information about the decision a secret," wrote Yakir. "This sharply contradicts the principles of proper governance."

Yakir wrote that the properties seized by the government included agricultural land that had not been abandoned, even after it became part of Jerusalem while its owners continued to live in the West Bank. His clients had been harvesting the orchards since the Six Day War.

In other cases, the property consists of buildings in the city which the owners have rented out or allowed relatives to use. In some cases, wrote Yakir, the rental money is the owner´s only source of income.

Yakir wrote that the 1950 Absentee Property Law, which served as the legal basis for the property seizures, was passed during a different period of history and is no longer appropriate, "both in terms of the constitutional regime currently in effect in Israel and the external circumstances that applied then and now." (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/31/05)

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