Land Day

Today is Land Day. Thirty one years ago, Palestinian citizens of Israel went out in the thousands to protest Israeli confiscation of their land. On that day, 21,000 dunums were marked for confiscation from Arab owners to be transfered to the State in order to build Jewish Industrial villages, one of Israel's continuous attempts to shift the demographic balance in the Galilee. Although it is Illegal in any democracy for the Army to get involved against citizens (except in cases of National Emergency), The Israeli Army went into the Arab towns in Israel, Killed 4 of the demonstrators and the Police assisted it by killing two others. From that day in 1976, March 30th became known as the Land Day, and is commemorated widely by Palestinians inside Israel, West Bank and Gaza and abroad.
The day is an opportunity to speak of the continuous discrimination Israel practices against its Arab citizens, particularly in the area of Land. In 1950 Israel passed the 'Custodian of Absentee Property Law- 1950'. As is the case with oxymoronic Israel, replace custodian by thief, and you get an understanding of the function of this custodian. Basically Absentees are defined as any persons who on the eve of the creation of Israel (14.05.48) were not in their original places of inhabitance. Any property these people owned, was transferred to the Custodian/Thief. As you might expect, no documented cases are available for such transfer of ownership affecting the Jewish citizens of Israel (how democratic!).
Even Internally displaced people (IDPs) who are Arab and who were forced to leave their villages and take refuge in other villages/towns within the 1949 armistice lines were subject to this law. In common Arab political discourse these are known as the present absentees (another oxymoron), they compose around 200,000 citizens.
To completely change the shape of the terrain. After the Custodian was created in 1950, Israel transferred the ownership of 3,000,000 dunums from the ownership of the Custodian/Thief to the ownership of the Keren Kiemit LiYesrael/JNF in 1951. The aims of this step were:
1. KKL is not a government body, therefore it can use its property as it wishes and is not obliged to abide by equality between Jews and Arabs since it is at the service of the Jews. Transferring land ownership to it would mean that this Land becomes earmarked as "Jews-only" without it being considered state discrimination.
2. As there was continuous pressure in that time for the Implementation of UNGA resolution 194, which calls for the return of the refugees to their properties, and was the main condition upon which Israel was admitted into the United Nations, Israel hastily created the custodian office, and hastily sold its property to the KKL in order to be able to claim that these properties are legally not owned by the state and therefor cannot be confiscated and given to their original owners.
(Poster by PLO)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ned. I transleted the first part in Italian, and posted on dalMondo.info. I cannot hide that I'd like to hear also the "other side" point of view...
All the best!
Ciao Giovanni B.