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Palestinians Urge Blinken Against Allowing US Embassy to Be Built on Confiscated Land in Jerusalem

Palestinians Urge Blinken Against Allowing US Embassy to Be Built on Confiscated Land in Jerusalem

Wednesday, 1 February, 2023 - 07:15
A general view of the temporary United States embassy in Jerusalem taken on May 14, 2018. (AFP)

The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah, filed on Monday a letter to object against a plan to build the new US embassy and diplomatic compound in Jerusalem. The letter charges that the missions will be built on land that was confiscated from Palestinians.

The letter was sent to the Jerusalem District Planning Committee at the Israeli Interior Ministry, US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Israel earlier this week.

The objection was filed by Adalah’s legal director on behalf of 12 of the heirs of the original Palestinian owners of the land the State Department is seeking to build on. The heirs include four US citizens, three Jordanians, and five East Jerusalem residents.

The US embassy compound is set to be built on a plot of land formerly known as the Allenby Barracks.

Adalah revealed that Israel had confiscated the land from the original owners using the 1950 Israeli Absentees’ Property Law. The land was then registered as state property, and later allocated to the US government.

In February 2021, the State Department and the Land Authority submitted plans for a US diplomatic compound. The move was made after former US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017 and relocated the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

In November 2022, Adalah and the Center for Constitutional Rights sent a letter to Blinken and Nides, calling on the US to cancel the new embassy plans and the Israeli government to withdraw them.

Records found in the Israeli State Archives and released by Adalah in July 2022 clearly prove that the land was owned by Palestinian families and leased temporarily to British Mandate authorities before the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Adalah and the Center for Constitutional Rights emphasized that if the US proceeds with this plan, it will be a full-throated endorsement of Israel’s illegal confiscation of private Palestinian property. The State Department will become an active participant in violating the private property rights of its own citizens.

The descendants of the original owners include renowned Palestinian-American historian and professor, Rashid Khalidi.

He revealed that he was one of the Palestinian property owners who, in 1999, provided then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright with extensive documentation showing that at least 70 percent of this land is owned by Palestinian refugees, including dozens of American citizen heirs.

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