Court files: Jews get land deals in east J'lem Arab areas

Documents refer to 11 properties in Silwan and Old City that were sold at below-market price to new Jewish residents by Israel Lands Authority.

November 7, 2010 18:48
1 minute read.
A Jewish-owned home in the neighborhood of Silwan

311_Jewish home in Silwan. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government sold or leased property in the pre-1967 Jordanian-controlled Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to Israeli settlers at exceptionally low prices, helping them cement a Jewish presence there, court documents published in English on Sunday show.

Documents released by the court are the first to show how easily settlers were able to put down stakes in these areas with the help of successive Israeli governments. In one case, a 3,660-square-foot building in the Old City was sold in October 2006 for $190,000 — a fraction of its market price.

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The documents were published after official request was filed by anti-settlement activists who sought a comprehensive accounting of the government's deals with two settler groups, Elad and Ateret Cohanim.

The documents refer to 11 properties. But activist Dror Etkes stated that the state is withholding information on other deals because nearly two decades ago, a government-appointed commission identified 68 land transactions involving the state and the two settler groups.

The Israel Lands Authority declined to comment.

All of the properties referred to in the court documents lie within the walled Old City, home to shrines sacred to Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and the adjacent, predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan.

An estimated 2,000 Jews live in the largely Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.

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