If Hitler gave the Eiffel Tower to Eichmann and his son showed up claiming it, would you call it “Private German Land”?
It seems the combined might of all the anti-Israel NGOs financed by such bodies as J-Street, the New Israel Fund (NIF) and the various anti-Israel arms of the European Union and the UN have all got one central talking point to delegitimise the perfectly natural building of Jewish homes, schools, businesses and other signs of progress in the Jewish heartlands of Judea and Samaria.
Their favourite term is “private Palestinian land”.
Most of what the radical left and the left wing Israeli Courts call “Private Palestinian Land” comes from deeds handed out by the King of Jordan during his illegal occupation from 1949 to 1967. He would gift parcels of land to anyone who’d take it and then demand land taxes! Most never walked on or developed their land and few paid the taxes. It is land claims like these that form the bedrock of the lawfare efforts by anti-Israel NGOs such as the one which resulted in the residents of Amona being thrown out of their homes.
It’s not a perfect analogy, none is, but if Hitler had handed out bits of Paris to his friends and their children showed up today and claimed them, calling them “private German land” would make just as much sense.
Further reading from JPost:
Promoted by Arab propagandists and their supporters, politicians, academics, media and anti-Israel NGOs, this theory has also been adopted by Israelis, including prominent judicial figures who give it legitimacy. A poisoned narrative based on ignorance and/or misunderstanding, it is a lie.
Based on titles and deeds, land that is registered becomes private property. But what if there are no documents to prove ownership?
Land that Arabs claim as their private property was not purchased; it was state-owned land that was either given away by the sovereign power during the Ottoman, British and Jordanian occupations or was encroached and developed. Arab claims based on gifts and alleged agricultural use are not property deeds. How, then, did this confusion about “private Palestinian land” come about?
Using ownerless, uninhabited land is a universally recognized method for claiming it, unless contested. Until the modern period, land registration, especially in sparsely populated areas like the Middle East, Africa and North Africa was not widely practiced.
With the rise of nation-states and the development of bureaucracies this changed.
And this one more recently:
Anyone following the press has been seeing more and more articles/ programs where the term is used. It should be clear that its use, in most cases, is incorrect and politically motivated. The term immediately conjures thoughts of improper and most likely illegal behavior, thus nothing more has to be said.
However, as is normally the case in Israel, the issue is much more complicated than that.
For starters, there are more classifications of land than just private or public.
The earliest internationally recognized document containing a reference to land that was neither private nor public was the British Mandate for Palestine, adopted unanimously by the League of Nations in 1922. In Article 6 it stated: “The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”
The Mandate did not introduce the concept of “waste lands.” Eretz Israel having been occupied by the Ottoman Empire for 400 years meant Ottoman land law was the prevailing law.
The major Ottoman rewrite of land law occurred in 1858, and spoke of five distinct classes of land: Arazi Memluke – freehold lands (private land) Arazi Miri – crown lands belonging to the state (state land) Arazi Mevkufe – lands possessed in mortmain, but tenanted by a kind of copyhold (Wakf land) Arabic Metruke – lands abandoned without cultivation or ostensible ownership Arazi Mewat – dead lands, uncultivated and unappropriated (waste land) And then within these classes there were further classifications.