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PLO: Absentee property law 'perpetuates the Nakba'

April 23, 2015 2:27 P.M. (Updated: April 23, 2015 7:48 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM(Ma'an) -- The PLO on Wednesday decried the continued implementation of the Absentee Property Law by Israel, condemning it as a flagrant violation of InternationalHumanitarianLaw and a tool used to dispossess Palestinians.

"Regardless of where Palestinians live, they remain entitled to their property and assets. With the application of its AbsenteeProperty Law in occupied East Jerusalem, the State of Israel is perpetuating the Nakba of 1948," PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.

On April 15, the Israeli Supreme Court approved the law's application in response to a growing number of appeals filed by Palestinians who had lost their property under the law, which allows the Israeli state to seize property in occupied East Jerusalem whose owners live in the West Bank or Gaza.

In his concluding remarks, Israeli JudgeAsherGrunis said, "I don't see any reason to strike down the law and impede its use under all circumstances."

"In our opinion there may be rare situations where the law will be enacted on property in Jerusalem that had been owned by Arabs living in Judea and Samaria. Under those circumstances, the government would need to get the permission of the Attorney General before acting."

The Absentee Property Law was ratified in 1950 and defined an "absentee" as a person who at any time between Nov. 29, 1947 and Sept. 1, 1948 was in "any part of the Land of Israel that is outside the territory of Israel (meaning the West Bank or the Gaza Strip) or in other Arab states."

All Palestinians who fled fighting or were forcibly displaced by Jewish militias were bydefinitionclassed as "absentees" and their propertytransferred to Israel's Custodian of Absentee Property.

Right-wing Israelis seeking to increase the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem have been using the law to seize property in East Jerusalem for a number of years.

"The Law constitutes a willful and deliberate attempt by Israel to stealPalestinian property, expand the illegal settlement enterprise for thebenefit of Jewish settlers and legalize the ethnic cleansing of the Jerusalem at the expense of the Palestinians, their homes andresources," Ashrawi said.

The PLO official called on the international community to take immediate action to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and to curb legislation which enables "Israel to persist in its policies of land theft, racial discrimination and violence against the Palestinian people."
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