Monday, November 23, 2009

The theft continues

Salim Khoury Shaya's seven children, lived in the house in Jaffa their father built. In 1948, three of them were visiting relatives in the Lebanon, when the Zionists started their land grab and, like all other Palestinians, they were not allowed to return. The other four children remained in the house. Therefore, one might expect the family to have been protected in their property from the 'Absentee Property Law' passed by the Knesset in 1950. In theory this disgusting law is meant to be a temporary measure to preserve absentee properties and prevent them from becoming abandoned and open to looting. Of course, the reality is, the absentees are forbidden from returning and the state comes into possession of their property. Still, four members of the Shaya family remained in the house, so surely they would not be affected by the law.

One should not underestimate the guile of the Israeli state though and sure enough they came up with a formula that allowed the state to take over 40% of the house, or that part of the property that they deemed belonged to the three missing members of the family; an "arrangement" that was to remain in force even although those members of the family who were in exile in the Lebanon signed an affidavit to the effect that they had sold their share of the house to the rest of the family. The affidavit was rejected by an Israeli court and in 1963 the Israel Lands Administration received custody of 40 percent of the house where the family is still living and now what do we have? We have the state claiming back rent and threatening to sell all of the house. Of course, the long and short of it is, by hook or by crook, this is just one more Palestinian house that the Israeli state wants to and probably will get a hold of. At least, this particular family will have its day in court. Nevertheless, I am sure that they have no illusions when it comes to Israeli justice.

In the meantime, we have Peres telling Mubarak that Netanyahu has pledged to stop expanding the settlements on the West Bank once peace talks with the Palestinians begin, while adding that, " it's a marginal issue; it is some building of houses that became a central issue for the wrong reasons." Of course, this is anything but a marginal issue and the ethnic cleansing and land grab that was legitimised by that 'Absentee Property Law' of 1950 has continued through the building of illegal settlements in and around East Jerusalem and in the West Bank and when Palestinians are already living in the area to be colonised? No problem, as is demonstrated in Silwan near Jerusalem where settlers, claiming a biblical right to the land, have been moving in in increasing numbers since the early 90s.

The "Jewish democracy" is unmasked; the people are chased off of their land and under the guise of the 1950 'Absentee Property Law' their holdings are seized with them being declared as "absent". "But we are here", the Shaya family is crying out. Yes, they provide the link to the illegal settlements in the occupied territories and to the land grab in Silwan. This is an ethnic cleansing that began in 1948 when three members of the Shaya family were visiting relatives in the Lebanon and it continues to this day and Mr Peres is neither a "marginal issue" nor is it something Netanyahu intends to stop.

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