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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Turkish Evidence hurts Israel land grabbing dreams

Thu, 19 Mar 2009 15:43:15 GMT | PressTV

Palestinians sit near the site where the al-Kurd family lived (Jerusalem) after police removed a tent built on the site of their demolished house in late 2008. Palestinians have suffered from Israeli land grabs for nearly sixty years.
A document recently uncovered from Ottoman archives in Ankara dispels Israeli misconceptions on the ownership of East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

If an Israeli court rules based on a document provided by Turkey, a 30-year-old dispute over the ownership of around 30 buildings in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood will end and Palestinian families threatened with eviction will be able to save their homes, Israeli daily Ha'aretz

Attorneys representing the Palestinians said they were granted access to the archives following the recent strains in Israel-Turkey relations.

"Until half a year ago the Turks didn't want to spoil their relations with Israel and were unhelpful. They would put us off with all kinds of excuses. Today their attitude has changed. We felt this change especially after the Gaza operation. Now senior Turkish officials are helping us," said attorney Hatam Abu Ahmed.

In January, lawyer Salah Abu Hussein traveled to Turkey and with the help of local officials found a document proving that the Jews demanding the eviction of the Palestinians were not the rightful owners of the area.

The present Palestinian residents had previously lived in West al-Quds (Jerusalem) until they were forced to go to Sheikh Jarrah as refugees.

In the 1970s, the Sephardic Leadership in al-Quds (Jerusalem) claimed they had purchased the land before the Palestinians were transferred and produced Turkish documents to substantiate their claims.

The courts eventually recognized the Sephardic Leadership's ownership but granted the Palestinians protected tenants' status.

However, the Sephardic Leadership and a group of settlers who moved into the nearby compound have been demanding the Palestinians' eviction, claiming they have violated their rental terms.

Over the years, several Palestinian families were evicted and other families moved into their houses. The last eviction took place in November 2008 when the al-Kurd family became subject to a land grab and moved into a protest tent near their sealed house. Shortly afterward, the father -- Mohamed al-Kurd -- died of an illness.

Throughout the years, the Palestinians claimed that the ownership documents presented by the Zionists were forged, but due to Turkey's reluctance to cooperate, they could not prove their ownership and the courts rejected their suits.

Now the attorneys say the Ottoman document proves that the Sephardic Leadership had never even purchased the compound and had only rented it. Another Ottoman document confirms that the document presented by the Jewish party is not authentic.

"There is no trace of the Jewish document in the archive," said Abu Hussein.

The attorneys on Wednesday asked the court to withhold eviction procedures against two Palestinian families on the basis of the Turkish document.

"Now it will be possible to issue ownership deeds. The Turks are very well organized and helpful," Abu Ahmed commented.

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