Saturday, January 28, 2023

(Israel Hayom via JNS) A 16-dunam (four-acre) noncontiguous parcel of land on a green hilltop in eastern Jerusalem, which lies between the security barrier and the eastern border of the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, could soon become the most volatile in the city.

The Israeli Justice Ministry has completed the process, conducted secretly, of transferring ownership of the land to the state, on a temporary basis.

Civil researchers hired by the ministry’s Custodian of Absentee Properties Department secured proof that the land was purchased by Jews in the early 20th century, and a court ruling has confirmed those findings.

In 1924, rents in Jerusalem jumped, making life difficult for the city’s Jewish residents. A group named “Vaad Haschenim” (The Neighbors’ Committee) was set up to purchase land and build a new neighborhood where more affordable housing would be built. They reached out to the Abu Dis town authorities and inquired about purchasing some 400 dunams of land (approximately 100 acres).

In 1948, when the city of Jerusalem was divided following the War of Independence, Abu Dis remained under Jordanian control. It grew and new construction started on some of the land the Jews had purchased, even though they were registered with Jordanian authorities.

In 2003, as the Second Intifada raged, Israel built its security barrier, anchoring the existing reality in which only 60 of the 400 or so dunams purchased were left on the Israeli side. The land was transferred to the authority of the Custodian of Absentee Properties. Throughout the years, the ministry located some of the heirs of members of the original Agudat Hadayarim, and transferred the land to them, which were then purchased by the philanthropist Irving Moscowitz.

The largest parcel of this land on the Israeli side of the security barrier, known as F, was never registered with the Jordanians as Jewish-owned land, and is considered abandoned property.

In 2021, civil researchers Yaakobi hired successfully proved that the F land belonged to Jews. That same year, the evidence was presented to the Jerusalem District Court, and Judge Tamar Bar Asher accepted the Justice Ministry’s arguments and approved the temporary transfer of the land to the Custodian of Absentee Properties.

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