Newspaper logo  
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

01.18 Learning From Cuba’s ‘Medicare for All’

01.17 As Planet Heats Further, Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe' [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization? [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

01.17 Studies Show Ice Melting and Ocean Warming Both Happening Much Faster Than Previously Thought

01.16 Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.16 Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic [charts]

01.15 Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies [Wonderful!]

01.15 Australia could hit 100% renewables sooner than most people think

01.15 Ion age: why the future will be battery powered

01.15 Barclays on wrong side of history with climate policy, says Greenpeace

01.15 'One fish at a time': Indonesia lands remarkable victory

01.15 Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’

01.14 V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care [The most public and efficient healthcare in America has been demonized and will be destroyed rather than improved, raising total  per-capita costs]

01.14 Saudi Arabia Increases Solar Targets To 20 Gigawatts By 2023 & 40 Gigawatts By 2030

01.14 Solar + Storage Half The Cost Of Gas Peaker Plants — 8MinuteEnergy

01.14 Why thousands of Los Angeles teachers are going on strike [Well at least we got a big tax-cut for the super-rich, that was the most important thing.]

01.14 Air pollution 'as bad as smoking in increasing risk of miscarriage'

01.09 Dutch eco initiative halves energy bills in first UK homes

01.09 'It's a nightmare': Americans' health at risk as shutdown slashes EPA

01.08 Monarch butterfly numbers plummet 86 percent in California [0:58 video; Do You Care?]

01.08 Carbon emissions up as Trump agenda rolls back climate change work [Making America Less  Great Again]

News Media Matters

01.19 How conservative media became a “safe space”

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

01.19 The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?

01.19 Donald Trump Has Never Cared About Workers, and Never Will

01.19 Republicans’ lack of alarm over the shutdown reveals a disturbing truth [Sociopaths have little or no conscience, empathy or morality...]

01.19 Arizona: Four women convicted after leaving food and water in desert for migrants [morality is against the law]

01.19 Mueller breaks silence to dispute parts of bombshell report on Michael Cohen

01.18 “Are We Really Where We Are?”: Trump, Putin, and Washington’s Unbelievable New Normal

01.18 With Mattis Gone, Trump Is Already Sowing More Global Chaos [Trump plays General—what could go wrong...]

01.18 The Right’s Case Against Soaking the Rich Is Dirt Poor

01.18 Trump Worsens the Border Crisis

01.18 Impeach Donald Trump

01.18 President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project [An impeachable offense]

01.18 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020 [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 These 2020 hopefuls are courting Wall Street. Don't be fooled by their progressive veneer

01.17 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lambasts US government shutdown in first House speech [3:27 video; Intelligent government is desperately needed]

Justice Matters

01.15 The US apparently kept no detailed notes of Trump-Putin meetings for the past 2 years

01.15 California’s largest utility just declared bankruptcy. Hello, climate change.

12.28 Mueller closes in: what will the Trump-Russia inquiry deliver in 2019?

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

01.17 Trump's economy is great for billionaires, not for working people [chock-full of pesky facts that government and media ignore and distort]

International & Futurism

01.19 The Ebola outbreak in Eastern Congo is moving toward a major city. That’s not good.

01.19 Ahead of Third Annual Women's March, Group Releases Far-Reaching 'Intersectional Feminist Policy Platform'

01.17 +++ Brexit crisis: Germany and Europe react — live updates +++

01.17 White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It's not [More equality requires us to fix ignored and distorted problems]

01.16 Global tensions holding back climate change fight, says WEF [Consistently stupid and harmful policies... Seeing a pattern?]

01.16 How Governments React to Climate Change: An Interview with the Political Theorists Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
This site Web
  Palestinian Dispossession in East Jerusalem


Palestinian Dispossession in East Jerusalem

by Stephen Lendman
Saturday, 13 March 2010

Palestinians have endured decades of occupied belligerency and the systematic theft of their land, the international community failing to fulfill its obligations under Article 1 to the four Geneva Conventions. For over six decades, Israel has remained unaccountable.

For Jews, Jerusalem is its historic capital. Muslims also claim it for the third holiest site in Islam, containing the 35 acre Noble Sanctuary (al-Haram al-Sharif), including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.

The 1947 UN Partition Plan designated Jerusalem an international city under a UN Trusteeship Council. After Israel's 1947-48 War of Independence, it was divided between Israel and Jordan, and during Israel's 1967 Six-Day War, East Jerusalem was captured and occupied, its current status today.

In March 2009, a confidential EU report (now public) accused Israel of using settlement expansions, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies, restrictive permits, closing Palestinian institutions, the West Bank Separation Wall, and various other ways to "actively pursu(e) the illegal annexation" of East Jerusalem and "increase Jewish presence" in the city.

In a December 2009 report, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel affirmed the EU report's concerns. Titled "Dispossession and Eviction in Jerusalem," it provides historical context, a legal overview, and case study examples in Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood between the Old City and Mount Scopus.

The community "has become the site of a protracted legal battle whose implications range from the evictions of more than 25 families to the visibility of a future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and the" ultimate status of Jerusalem.

Four families have already been evicted from homes they've lived in for over 50 years. The others are awaiting court appearances and rulings to decide their fate, nearly certain given Israel's history of judicial unfairness toward Arabs, including its own citizens having no rights in a nation affording them solely to Jews.

Since the 1970s, Israeli settlers have targeted Sheikh Jarrah, seeking control of property they claim Jews owned before 1948 as a way to increase Jewish residency in "strategically located" parts of East Jerusalem. Specific areas include the Shepherd Hotel compound, the Karm Al-Mufti olive grove, and Karm Al-Ja'ouni, but Sheikh Jarrah in its entirety demonstrates the futility of decades of legal battles and "an inherent legislative bias that renders adherence to international legal standards ineffectual."


In 1956, three UNWRA-Jordanian agreements promised 28 families Sheikh Jarrah property deeds they never got. One let them lease the land as refugees. The second agreed to fund their homes, and the third stipulated that "in exchange for nominal rent payments (and other provisions), the families would lease (them) for three years," after which they'd have legal title. Despite adhering to contract terms, they never got it.

After the 1956 Six-Day War, the Israeli General Custodian controlled Sheikh Jarrah. Then in 1972, the Sephardic Community Committee and the Knesset Israel Committee (both religious and ideological) sought ownership rights, based on a historical and religious affiliation during the Ottoman era, using "koshan," a legal title as the basis of their claim, dating from the early 19th century, then finalized in 1886.

The "koshan's" validity is central to the current claim and legal challenges to decide who has rightful ownership. But according to expert testimonies, the document's authenticity is in doubt as they don't conform to Ottoman era criteria, so therein lies the rub.

Further, according to the Israeli Land Registry Office, the "koshan" doesn't bear on the rights of parties already inhabiting the land and isn't proof of ownership. Nonetheless, 23 Palestinian families were ordered to pay rent. Legal challenges followed, so it's for the courts to decide who owns the land rightfully.

Earlier in 1982, a protracted legal battle began after the Committees jointly sued 23 of the families. At the time, it was resolved by granting the validity of the Committees' claim while giving the families "protected tenant" status, removing the threat of eviction provided they paid rent regularly and refrained from renovating or changing the property. The case became a modern precedent for settling Karm Al-Ja'ouni neighborhood disputes, but it failed to address the legitimacy of the Committees' claim or the consent of the other 17 families.

The agreement became the legal basis for subsequent court-ordered evictions and "rendered....inquiries into the legitimacy of the Committees ownership claims redundant from a domestic legal perspective."

Here's the problem. The four evicted families deny ever consenting, their lawyer acting on his own for settlement, yet what he achieved "diverged greatly" from his clients' wishes. The families remain steadfast, saying they were misrepresented, kept uninformed, and maintain the homes are theirs, based on the UNRWA-Jordanian agreement.

In addition, the 1982 court decision stipulated that the settlement may be challenged if clear proof shows it was reached on false grounds. Perhaps so as the affected families got no additional benefits beyond their undisputed rights.

"Protected tenancy" derives from the 1972 Tenant Protection Law, protecting against East Jerusalem evictions under Israeli law. Nonetheless, the settlement became the legal standard for subsequent confrontations over ownership claims.

Numerous legal actions followed without resolution, despite the "koshan's" uncertain authenticity based on a 19th century Ottoman document. However, the Committees have prevailed so far, not the families, four already evicted, the others very much in jeopardy. From an overall perspective, the:

"measures employed to (remove them) relate to one of a number of complementary initiatives undertaken by both public and private actors intent on creating, and maintaining, a Jewish demographic majority throughout occupied East Jerusalem" toward the ultimate goal of making all Jerusalem exclusively Jewish.

Currently, four Sheikh Jarrah planning schemes are in different approval stages, the largest being TPS 12705, submitted by Nahalat Shimon International in August 2008, applying directly to the land where the families live. If approved, construction of 200 new Jewish only residential units will proceed, affecting 500 Palestinians who'll be evicted and their homes demolished.

Other developments involve smaller projects, all favoring Jews over Palestinians. Together, they'll "advance the creation of Israeli strongholds in the holy basin surrounding the Old City with Sheikh Jarrah to the north, Silwan to the south, and the Mount of Olives to the east." The idea is to build a number of Jewish neighborhoods linking West Jerusalem and Mount Scopus, a Jewish continuity, simultaneously displacing longstanding Palestinian residents from their own land.

As for the 28 Palestinian families, they're an impediment to Israel's aim. The solution then is remove them with the help of obliging courts that usually deliver.

The issue "also represents the most evolved (initiative) facilitating the development of Jewish settlements throughout this sector of occupied East Jerusalem." It began over 30 years ago, initiating a long succession of rental demands and subsequent legal actions.

Family Testimonies

The Al-Kurd Family's testimony is instructive. Shortly after the 1948 war, Fawzyeh Al-Kurd was born in the Old City. Needing a new home, she found it in Sheikh Jarrah, thanks to the UNWRA-Jordan agreement. She's been there ever since, married Mohammed Kamel Al-Kurd in 1970, and raised six children. Two years later, litigation demanding rent began when she was young and didn't realize the consequences.

Over the years, hardships and continuous legal proceedings generated "fear and uncertainty" that culminated on November 8, 2008 when heavily armed, masked police entered their home forcibly in the middle of the night after locking down the neighborhood.

Though ill and confined to a wheelchair, Mohammed was thrown to the sidewalk, suffered a heart attack, and died a week later from a second one. He was too sick to contest. In mourning, Fawzyeh lived in a tent, protested, and was harassed by police. Confused and frustrated, she noted that "Many people, organizations, and governments know of my case, yet the world has remained silent."

In two separate 1999 lawsuits, the Committees demanded that the family be evicted over rent delinquency and Tenant Protection Law violations. They prevailed, and an eviction order was issued, based on a 1989 Civil Appeal ruling and the Committees' 1972 "koshan." The Al-Kurds were held in contempt for violating the Committees' rights, the judgment also saying if the family objected, they had to pay rent to a court fund until the ownership question was resolved.

The Al-Kurds' appeal was rejected on the grounds that the family failed to prove they were misrepresented and that delay in filing the claim effectively undermined their position.

In 2008, the family sued in the High Court of Justice (HCJ) in which they requested a declaratory judgment under which their lawyer's agreement and subsequent verdicts would be voided. Again they were rejected, the HCJ ruling that the family failed to meet the requisite burden of proof.

The Al-Ghawi family's experience was just as frustrating - losing their home, living in a tent for six months until returning while legal proceedings continued until receiving a final notice in August 2009 when police stormed the house, removed them forcibly, and destroyed most of their belongings in the process. Reflecting on the episode, Fuad Al-Ghawi said "The reaction of the children has been terrible. They are afraid and unable to forget that they once lived" there.

Yet he remained steadfast seeking an alternative solution, saying:

"We are waiting for someone to help us. I am struggling to stay in Jerusalem. Our options are limited; the cost of a new house here is very high. I don't know what we are going to do, but we won't leave, or else we will never be allowed back."

For the Hanoun family, suffering compounded by uncertainty became an element of every day life, Maher saying it was "impossible to plan for a future." Evicted in 2002, they were again in August 2009. The experience took its toll.

"The eviction has destroyed our lives. To live on the street is so hard. It kills my family to watch strange faces living in the home in which we spent our lives."

Yet Maher is determined to achieve an equitable solution for his family and other Sheikh Jarrah residents. His home motivates his spirit. "The same house contains the history, memories, and dreams of my family."

The Sabbagh family lived in their home since 1956 when named in the initial 1972 actions against Sheikh Jarrah residents. Finally in June 2009, a court document challenged their land ownership right, the same action Mohammed Sabbagh knew his neighbors faced over the years. Preparing for the worst, his case remains ongoing awaiting the next court hearing. It's already convened twice, both times Committee lawyers requesting a delay for being unable to supply requested documents.

The other families keep struggling, facing one obstacle after another, being rejected time and again, yet persisting to retain land they rightfully own.

International Law Considerations

Numerous international laws affirm the right to housing, property, protection against forced evictions, and reparations. Yet Israel repeatedly violates them. Consider Jerusalem. The UN Partition Plan designated it an international city under a UN Trusteeship Council. But contrary to international laws, Israel claims sovereignty, imposed control, and is incrementally removing Palestinians to make it exclusively a Jewish city.

On June 7, 1967, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan proclaimed: The Israeli Defense Forces have liberated Jerusalem. We have reunited the torn city, the capital of Israel. We have returned to this most sacred shrine, never to part from it again."

Yet General Assembly and Security Council resolutions called for the city's immediate, unconditional "demilitarization" and "internationalization."

Nonetheless, in 1967, historic Palestine became belligerently occupied. Jerusalem was declared its capital, and Palestinians have been systematically removed, despite UN resolutions declaring all:

"measures taken by Israel to change the status of the city to be invalid, (and ordering its government to) rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further actions which tend to change the status of Jerusalem."

July 1980 was defining when Israel passed its Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel (the Jerusalem Law), declaring the city "complete and united (as) the capital of Israel."

East Jerusalem was effectively annexed in violation of international law and Israel's noncompliance with Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. SC Resolution 478 (August 20, 1980) declared the law null and void, a violation of international law, and required it be rescinded forthwith. The vote was 14 - 0, America abstaining.

Israel categorically rejected it, announcing "It will not undermine the status of Jerusalem as the capital of a sovereign Israel and as a united city which will never again be torn apart."

International laws state otherwise, requiring an occupying power to respect territorial laws in place, any new ones conforming with the provisions of Fourth Geneva's Article 64 and Article 43 of the Hague Regulations.

Geneva stipulates:

"The penal laws of the occupied territory shall remain in force, with the exception that they may be repealed or suspended by the Occupying Power in cases where they constitute a threat to its security or an obstacle to the application of the present Convention....the tribunals of the occupied territory shall continue to function in respect of all offences covered by the said laws."

In defiance, Israel imposed its will, thereafter tightening it ruthlessly. As a result, Sheikh Jarrah residents are governed under Israeli law, affording them no justice or redress.

Combined, Hague (1907) and Geneva (1949 and subsequent additions) international law provisions comprise the core body of occupation law. They regard military occupation as temporary, for the period only between cessation of hostilities and a peace treaty. Occupying powers have no sovereignty over territories they control. They're temporary trustees, responsible under Hague's Article 43:

to "take all measures in (their) power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country."

Even then, Hague and Geneva stipulate that any legislative or other changes must benefit the civilian population, protect their rights, and prescribe no unlawful measures, including collective punishment, forcible transfer, or the confiscation or destruction of their property.

Especially relevant is Israel's 1970 Legal and Administrative Matters of Law. It was enacted to include all properties Jews claimed ownership of pre-1948, empowering an Administrator General to return them to their previous owners. A separate law prohibited Palestinians from reclaiming lost West Jerusalem land - actions Hague and Geneva provisions call discriminatory, illegal, and unjustifiable.

Under Fourth Geneva's Article 4, East Jerusalem Palestinians are "protected persons," Article 29 stating:

"the party to the conflict in whose hands protected persons may be, is responsible for the treatment accorded to them by its agents, irrespective of any individual responsibility which may be incurred."

Article 27 states:

"Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and....all protected persons shall be treated with the same consideration by the Party to the conflict in whose power they are, without any adverse distinction based, in particular, on race, religion or political opinion."

In other words, occupied people are ensured absolute protection. Under international law, violations hold no validity, including illegal territorial annexations.

Confiscating and demolishing Palestinian homes for Jewish settlements constitute serious legal breaches. Hague's Article 46 prohibits expropriation, and Article 47 bans pillage.

Fourth Geneva's Article 53 forbids private property destruction, not justified by military necessity that ends when hostilities cease.

Belligerently occupying Sheikh Jarrah "invalidates any recourse to military necessity as the basis of the seizure and proposed destruction of private property." Doing it for 200 exclusively Jewish residential units is a grave international law breach, that under the Rome Statute's Article 8(2)(a)(iv) is a war crime.

It also violates Fourth Geneva's Article 49 stipulating that the "Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" nor forcibly remove its lawful residents. The Rome Statute calls this a war crime.

Thus far, four Sheikh Jarrah families (with its 100 residents) have been forcibly uprooted and evicted. The fate of 24 others (with hundreds more) hangs in the balance, besides thousands already displaced and the entire East Jerusalem Palestinian population targeted for removal - involuntarily, forcibly and illegally. The International Criminal Court calls forced displacement a war crime and a crime against humanity when part of a widespread and systematic attack on a civilian population.

Numerous other international laws respect the right to property and protection against confiscation, destruction, and forced evictions, including the:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights;
  • Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination;
  • Convention on the elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and
  • Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Sheikh Jarrah is a "poignant case study" highlighting Israel's belligerent lawlessness. It's "a microcosm of Israel's aggressive East Jerusalem" land policies over the entire West Bank, providing "a documented example of the (multiple public and private forces) engaged in cementing (its) claim to sovereignty over (all) Jerusalem" and as much of the West Bank as it wishes.

Palestinians have endured decades of occupied belligerency and the systematic theft of their land, the international community failing to fulfill its obligations under Article 1 to the four Geneva Conventions stipulating:

"The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances," meaning they must intervene to enforce the law by holding violator states liable.

Yet for over six decades, Israel's has remained unaccountable, including for state terrorism, belligerency, militarized occupation, arrests, incarcerations, random killings, targeted assassinations, torture, free movement and expression restrictions, crop destruction, economic strangulation, home demolitions, land seizures, and forced displacement, yet the world community is silent.

How long will this continue? When will justice be served? Why haven't supportive millions acted to assure it? People of conscience demand answers. It's high time they got them.

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at His blog is

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on March 13, 2010.

Public Service Ads: