Final month, and coinciding with United States President Joe Biden’s go to to Jerusalem, the Haifa-based Adalah Authorized Heart launched a report detailing how land designated for a deliberate US embassy was really owned by Palestinians earlier than it was stolen by Israel following the Nakba of 1948.
The descendants of the unique house owners embrace Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, in addition to Palestinian Individuals. Adalah, together with these descendants, shared of their report authentic paperwork serving as proof of possession of the property in Jerusalem. The events have demanded that the Biden administration cancels the plan to construct a diplomatic mission on stolen land.
The revelations and the battle of Palestinians to reclaim their land really feel private to me. They echo an analogous battle for our previous that my grandfather – and lots of others – waged.
After 1948, Israel legalised the systematic theft of Palestinian properties and properties in West Jerusalem, particularly by way of the Absentee Property Regulation. That 1950 laws declared Nakba refugees “absentees” even when they had been within the japanese a part of Jerusalem and allowed the Israeli authorities’s Custodian of Absentee Property to take over their property.
Again then, the Individuals themselves recognised this reality in a cable despatched by the US consul normal in Jerusalem in December 1948. The consul normal wrote to the US secretary of state, stating that Israel was attempting to “get rid of” the opportunity of Palestinian refugees returning residence, in defiance of a United Nations decision handed earlier that month and supported by the US.
My household was one of many many Palestinian households that had been denied the correct to our properties in Jerusalem’s west facet.
Earlier than Israel, my grandfather owned a home in al-Qatamon, a contemporary and prosperous neighbourhood of Jerusalem, positioned 2km (1.2 miles) south of the Previous Metropolis. Established in 1860, Al-Qatamon included 204 Palestinian properties on land that spanned 20 hectares (49 acres). It was established to accommodate center to upper-class Jerusalemite households who discovered life inside the partitions of the Previous Metropolis too crowded.
The inhabitants of the neighbourhood was primarily Muslim and Christian, together with a couple of international households who lived there in the course of the time of the British Mandate. Rising up, Palestinian author and physician Ghada Karmi introduced al-Qatamon alive for me by way of her 2002 memoir, In Search of Fatima. In her e-book, Karmi described her household’s stone home and its backyard filled with citrus and olive bushes. Karmi and her household had been compelled out of the neighbourhood when she was eight years outdated, in the course of the Nakba.
Later, I got here to carry paperwork that my grandfather and father had rigorously stored, proving the possession of our home in al-Qatamon. The papers confirmed that my grandfather had registered the property on April 21, 1939. He had purchased it from one other Palestinian Jerusalemite household, the Zmourrods.
Every little thing modified in 1948, following my household’s expulsion to East Jerusalem. My grandfather, although simply 1km (0.6 miles) away from al-Qatamon, was instantly an “absentee” beneath Israeli legislation.
The land registry deeds in my arms confirmed how on July 28, 1957, the Custodian for Absentee Property bought my household’s home to Israel’s Growth Authority, so it could possibly be taken over by new Jewish tenants. The identical land registry deeds that listed my grandfather because the proprietor of this property now had one other get together promoting it away.
In 1970, the Israeli Knesset handed the Authorized and Administrative Issues Regulation, which successfully meant that Jewish house owners who needed to flee their property in East Jerusalem in 1948 wouldn’t be thought-about “absentees” within the then-newly occupied a part of the town. They might return to say their properties. That very same legislation, nonetheless, didn’t lengthen comparable advantages to East Jerusalem residents who as soon as owned property in West Jerusalem. These Palestinians, like my grandfather, remained “absentees”.
Nonetheless, my grandfather determined he wished to say his residence. On March 28, 1972, as a resident of a Jerusalem “unified” beneath Israeli authority, he wrote a letter to the Custodian of Absentee Property. He requested that his home be returned to him since he was now a resident of Jerusalem and now not “absent”. He completed his letter with these emphatic phrases: “This home is my non-public property and nobody else has any reference to it.”
Practically a month later, the Custodian of Absentee Property in Jerusalem wrote again, citing the Absentee Property Regulation as trigger to show down my grandfather’s plea.
With the paperwork in my hand, and counting on what my father knew, I pinpointed the precise location of the home and took my dad for a go to in the summertime of 2021. We weren’t shocked to seek out it was nonetheless there, and that it was occupied by a Jewish Israeli household. The constructing had two additional tales added on prime of the unique one-storey home. All over the place I appeared within the neighbourhood, I noticed proof of our Palestinian existence, and I felt the heartache of our erasure.
The 1970 legislation enabled Jewish teams to say possession of property in East Jerusalem, most prominently within the areas of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan. So far, Palestinians displaced by Israel don’t take pleasure in that proper in West Jerusalem.
As Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and different neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem face eviction orders in favour of Jewish settlement, I can not cease fascinated with the sheer injustice of all of it.
They declare Jerusalem is an undivided metropolis, but there are two legal guidelines governing two peoples in essentially the most unequal method. They declare we now have rights, but I consider they merely tolerate our existence. We lack the correct to vote, the correct to housing, the correct to property – and with our ancestral properties stolen, the correct to our historical past.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.