How does the Israeli Absentee Property Law deprive Palestinians of their homes?

The British Middle East Eye website said that the Absentee Property Law – which is one of the founding texts of the State of Israel, and gives it the authority to confiscate and seize the property and assets of Palestinians after they were forced to leave them in 1948 – a strict policy that has remained for more than half a century one of the constants Israeli policy.

The site mentioned -in A report by the Palestinian journalist and poet, Mustafa Abu SneinaThis law, consisting of 39 chapters, issued in March 1950 by the first Israeli government led by David Ben-Gurion; He was again employed by the Israeli authorities this week to justify the eviction and demolition of the home of the Palestinian “Salhia” family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied Jerusalem.

In principle, this law classifies Palestinian property as “absentees,” even if they are present in the country or hold Israeli citizenship.

Suhad Bishara, a legal expert and lawyer at the Adalah Human Rights Center concerned with the Palestinians of the interior, confirms that according to this law, “all the Palestinians of Galilee who became refugees in Syria and the Palestinian-Israeli citizen who left his hometown in Tiberias in 1948 and sought refuge in Nazareth are considered absentees.”

She adds that “the Palestinian in Nazareth is not absent as he continued to live in what became Israel in 1948, but the law considers him as such.”

United Nations figures indicate that in the aftermath of the 1948 war, there were 160,000 Palestinian citizens inside Israel, 30% of whom were internally displaced, while the number of Palestinians in Israel today is 1.8 million, making up 20% of the country’s population, and 1 in 4 of them live In places not far from the lands and properties from which their families were expelled after the war.

Since 1998, these Palestinians have held an annual celebration inside, during which they go to one of those places and villages and show that they are still present on their ancestral lands, but the Israeli authorities still deprive them of the right to claim their lands and properties under the Absentee Property Law.

The writer believes that the language of the law was directed primarily at the new settlers who came to Israel to push them to report any Palestinian assets and property they had seized to the custodian of the absentees’ property, and their failure to do so threatened them with imposing fines and sometimes leading to imprisonment.

Prior to 1950, Israel had several emergency laws to deal with these property and assets, but following the adoption by the United Nations of Resolution 194 in December 1948 that enshrined the right of Palestinians to return and called for financial compensation for the loss or destruction of their property, Israel faced a challenge To deal with the large-scale looting by the new settlers.

The former director of the Arab Association for Human Rights, Muhammad Zeidan, asserts that “there was a need for Israel to regulate the process of controlling these properties and assets;

The site notes that homes and land were not the only assets Israel confiscated under this law, as it also seized many commercial projects in coastal towns such as Jaffa and Haifa, where Palestinian owners were also turned into refugees and considered absentees.

Zaidan asserts that “all the Palestinian companies that worked in the export of citrus fruits – for example – were under the control and management of Israel after the owners left, and these companies continued to work and make profits for several years after that. The Haifa Tobacco Company is another example of that.”

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