Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Countering
Item 7

THE UNHRC'S STANDING AGENDA ITEM
TARGETING ISRAEL

Claims

Claim 42: Israel Forcibly Displaces Families in East Jerusalem

examples

Pakistan, 54th Session

“We share the concerns of UN SPMHs on the forced eviction and displacement of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family and many other Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. We stress that the forcible transfer must be immediately reversed.”

OIC, 54th Session

“We echo the concerns of UN SPMHs that the forced eviction and displacement of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family and many other Palestinian families in East Jerusalem may amount to a war crime of forcible transfer and must be immediately reversed.”

Luxembourg, 54th Session

“We’re particularly concerned by the expulsion and forced displacement of numerous Palestinian families to East Jerusalem, which could be tantamount to the war crime of forced transfer.”

Our Response

UN Watch

UN Watch RESPONSE

These accusations by Luxembourg, Pakistan, and the OIC, concern private property disputes that have been litigated between the parties—Jewish property owners and Palestinian tenants/squatters—in the Israeli court system over many years. These cases typically arise from the non-payment of rent by the Palestinian protected tenants to the Jewish property owners and other property law violations by the Palestinian protected tenants such as illegal building. Property laws requiring long-term protected tenants to pay rent to the property owners exist in almost every jurisdiction around the world and are not unique to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Contrary to widespread misrepresentation, these eviction cases do not reflect any attempt by the State of Israel to forcibly expel Palestinian families from their homes or from East Jersualem as a whole. In fact, the State of Israel is not a party to the legal proceedings and has not participated in them.

One of the numerous inaccurate claims surrounding these property disputes is the wider assertion that Israeli law allows Jews to regain ownership of lands they possessed in East Jerusalem before 1948, while denying Palestinians the right to reclaim ownership of lands they owned in West Jerusalem. First, this point is completely irrelevant to these eviction cases which do not involve absentee Arab-Palestinian property owners who are now attempting to reclaim absentee property, but rather “protected tenants” who failed to pay rent.[1] Second, this portrayal of Israeli law is incorrect, as the laws are ethnically neutral and confer the same rights on Jews and Arabs with regard to claims against absentee property, meaning property administered by a State custodian after it was abandoned during the 1948 war. Furthermore, Israeli practices regarding such property align with established patterns in international law and practice.[2]

In the specific case of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family referenced by the OIC and Pakistan, eviction orders resulted from a protracted legal battle spanning decades. In July 2023, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the final appeal of the Palestinian family, upholding the lower court rulings which had been based on the family’s non-residence in the apartment since 1984 and its failure to pay court-ordered rent payments. The property, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, had Jewish owners prior to 1948 and was never owned by the Sub-Labans who began renting it from Jordan’s custodian of absentee property in 1953. After the 1967 war, when Israel gained control of East Jerusalem, Palestinian tenants like the Sub-Labans were acknowledged as “protected tenants,” contingent on their continued residence in the apartments and payment of rent.[3]

Unfortunately, pro-Palestinian NGOs[4] have politicized these private property-disputes, including the case of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family, falsely claiming that they represent an Israeli government policy to forcibly transfer Palestinians from East Jerusalem and constitute war crimes that should be investigated by the International Criminal Court, when in fact the Israeli government is not even involved in the legal proceedings. Such claims and campaigns distort, obfuscate, and erase the facts and nature of this case, as litigated over 45 years in multiple Israeli courts.

 

[1] Gidon Shaviv, Tamar Sternthal, AP’s Sub-Laban Eviction Story Spotlights Journalistic Failure, CAMERA (December 23, 2015), https://www.camera.org/article/ap-s-sub-laban-eviction-story-spotlights-journalistic-failure/.

[2] Avi Bell, The Sheikh Jarrah Property Dispute and False Claims of Israeli Land Discrimination, Kohelet Policy Forum (May 20, 2021), https://en.kohelet.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/The-Myth-of-Jewish-Property-Discrimination.pdf.

[3] Gidon Shaviv, Tamar Sternthal, AP’s Sub-Laban Eviction Story Spotlights Journalistic Failure, CAMERA (December 23, 2015), https://www.camera.org/article/ap-s-sub-laban-eviction-story-spotlights-journalistic-failure/ (discussing court orders).

[4] See, e.g., PNGO and PHROC: The Imminent Threat Forcible Transfer of Ghaith-Sub Laban Family, an International Crime and Ongoing Nakba, Al-Haq (June 23, 2023),  https://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/21577.html.

UN Watch