AG reverses gov´t decision to seize East Jerusalem land (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondent 02/01/05 14:59 (GMT+2)
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Attorney General Menachem Mazuz decided Monday to overturn a
government decision entitling the state to confiscate all East
Jerusalem property owned by thousands of West Bank residents, without
The Ministerial Committee on Jerusalem decided in June to apply the
Absentee Property Law to East Jerusalem property owned by
Palestinians living in the West Bank, thus reversing the policy of
all Israel´s governments since the 1967 Six Day War.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who
is responsible for the law´s enactment, Mazuz said it was not within
the ministerial committee´s power to interpret the extent of the
authority of the absentee property custodian.
In his letter, Mazuz added that applying the committee´s
decision "could also have grave diplomatic repercussions on the
separation fence, which has drawn strong criticism from the
International Court of Justice at The Hague."
"This is an issue where clearly Israel´s interest would be to avoid
opening new fronts in the world and in international law," Mazuz
On Monday, Mazuz informed the Association for Civil Rights in Israel
that the cabinet´s decision to apply the Absentee Property Law to
East Jerusalem was made without his knowledge or consent.
This contradicted an earlier statement issued by the Prime Minister´s
Office, which claimed that the Ministerial Committee on Jerusalem
made the decision "with the consent of the attorney general´s
representative," who attended the meeting, and after Mazuz himself
had seen a copy.
Officials in the Prime Minister´s Office said in response that they
were skeptical about Mazuz´s claim of ignorance.
Embarrassed Justice Ministry officials could not explain Monday how
Mazuz wound up in the dark on such a sensitive matter, which clearly
required a legal seal of approval. The issue constitutes a serious
organizational failure that is now being investigated, the officials
But Haaretz has learned that the ministry´s representative on the
Jerusalem panel, attorney Ya´akov Shapira, failed to inform his
superiors that the Absentee Property Law was coming up on the
committee´s agenda, and also failed to inform them about the
committee´s decision. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 02/01/05)
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