The Grand Land Theft - Ramifications of Israel’s Registration of Land Ownership in East Jerusalem

Bimkom and Ir Amim's joint analysis paper examines the current status and dire ramifications of the State of Israel’s formal registration of land ownership in East Jerusalem. Officially known as “settlement of land title (SOLT),” this state-led process in East Jerusalem is being carried out unimpeded in an alarming fashion.

Data collected over the past five years reveal that these procedures are being exploited as a new and potent tool of land theft. It appears to have become a new mechanism to expand and finalize state and settler appropriation of territory across East Jerusalem, while increasing the threat of Palestinian dispossession and displacement.

In 2018, the Israeli government allocated 50 million NIS to formally implement the process in East Jerusalem as part of Government Decision 3790 to “Reduce Socioeconomic Gaps and Advance Economic Development in East Jerusalem.” The absence of registered land rights for Palestinians has been one of the primary obstacles to advancing formal urban development in East Jerusalem. Certain workarounds emerged over the decades, but the process of obtaining building permits has remained extremely difficult. Although the SOLT process was depicted as a measure to rectify this situation, it rather serves as a guise under which Israel is seizing more land in East Jerusalem for Jewish settlement, while curtailing any possible establishment of Palestinian rights to their lands.

According to the data, SOLT is almost exclusively being initiated to finalize ownership rights in existing or planned Israeli settlements, settler enclaves in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods, areas with state-deemed “absentee property,” or lands allegedly owned by Jews before 1948. Of the various examples cited in the paper, one of the most alarming is in Wadi Hilwe, Silwan where the process is underway in 15 blocs. Wadi Hilwe has been targeted for decades and has become the hub of the Elad settler group. The blocs more


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