I tracked down the house Israel stole from my grandfather

by | Aug 28, 2022 | World

Last month, and coinciding with United States President Joe Biden’s visit to Jerusalem, the Haifa-based Adalah Legal Center released a report detailing how land designated for a planned US embassy was actually owned by Palestinians before it was stolen by Israel following the Nakba of 1948.The descendants of the original owners include Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, as well as Palestinian Americans. Adalah, along with these descendants, shared in their report original documents serving as proof of ownership of the property in Jerusalem. The parties have demanded that the Biden administration cancels the plan to build a diplomatic mission on stolen land.
The revelations and the struggle of Palestinians to reclaim their land feel personal to me. They echo a similar battle for our past that my grandfather – and many others – waged.
After 1948, Israel legalised the systematic theft of Palestinian homes and properties in West Jerusalem, in particular through the Absentee Property Law. That 1950 legislation declared Nakba refugees “absentees” even if they were in the eastern part of Jerusalem and allowed the Israeli government’s Custodian of Absentee Property to take over their property.
Back then, the Americans themselves recognised this fact in a cable sent by the US consul general in Jerusalem in December 1948. The consul general wrote to the US secretary of state, stating that Israel was trying to “eliminate” the possibility of Palestinian refugees returning home, in defiance of a United Nations resolution passed earlier that month …

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