Court gives J'lem property back to Jewish owners

Arabs have been squatting on the property since 1948.

Shimon Cohen,

The building in question
The building in question
National Lands Foundation

Jerusalem Magistrates Court Justice Anna Schneider ordered the evacuation of three East Jerusalem properties Tuesday, as they were found to have been purchased by Jews before 1948 but then invaded by Arabs. 

The three properties in question were purchased in the thirties by the Arica family, Jews who immigrated to Israel from Syria. In 1948, the family fled after the Jordanians tried to kill and rape the sons and daughters of the family while the men fought on various fronts.

In 1967 the Administrator General of the Ministry of Justice began to manage the assets, and signed a contract with the Arabs who were squatters on the property between 1948 and 1967.

But the property was eventually restored due to the effort of Jerusalem City Council member Aryeh King. 

"In the early 1990s, the Aricas' assets were released from Administrator General supervision," he explained. "In 2008, the family sold the building, as the Arabs who occupied it claimed they had been paying rent to the State of Israel since 1967." 

Later, a Jewish investment company, Shabali, acquired the property - and told the Arabs living there they must leave at the end of their rental agreement. The Arabs replied that a man named Meir Nadav from the Administrator General's office had "guaranteed them use of the space for the next 20 years"; they submitted documents which were suspected to be falsified to the court. 

King also maintains that one of the tenants "used physical violence" toward him when he arrived to give the defendants a court summons. 

On Tuesday, Schneider ruled that the Arab residents were unable to prove their rights to the property, and that the documents were highly likely to have been forged. 

"The defendant failed to prove that the rent was paid," she added. "He did not even present one receipt for the rent." 

For these and other claims which arose during the hearing, the justice deemed the tenant's claims against King "irrelevant." 

"The defendant must vacate the leased property and is not entitled to any compensation," she added, noting that the tenants "have no one to blame but themselves." 

The judge further ordered the defendant to pay court costs and attorneys' fees amounting to 15,000 shekels ($3928). 




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