Shtayyeh urges US to scrap Jerusalem embassy plan

Palestinians have said in the past that the land was owned by Palestinian families and leased temporarily to British Mandate authorities before 1948.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh  in Ramallah. August 25, 2020 (photo credit: ALAA BADARNEH/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah. August 25, 2020
(photo credit: ALAA BADARNEH/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Monday demanded that the US administration cancel plans for building a new US Embassy complex in Jerusalem.

Last week, the Jerusalem Municipality published the zoning description for the embassy, which will be located on Derech Hebron between Hanock Albek Street and Daniel Yanovsky Street, an area known by its British Mandate-era name as “Camp Allenby.”

Shtayyeh, who was speaking at the start of the weekly Palestinian cabinet meeting in Ramallah, claimed that the land where the embassy is planned to be built had been “illegally confiscated” by Israeli authorities in 1950.

US embassy in Jerusalem to be built on Palestinian-owned land?

Palestinians have said in the past that the land was owned by Palestinian families and leased temporarily to British Mandate authorities before 1948.

They added that the lease documents revealed the names of the Palestinian landowners, including members of the families of Habib, Khaldi, Khalili, Razzaq and Qleibo.

In July, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) argued that if built, the US Embassy compound will be located on land that was seized from Palestinians in violation of international law.

The US Embassy in Jerusalem (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)The US Embassy in Jerusalem (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

“Israel seized this land under the Absentees’ Property law,” Adalah pointed out. “The US Embassy plan will violate the private property rights of Palestinian landowners and internationally established right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and gain restitution of their properties. Using the Absentees’ Property Law to confiscate land in Jerusalem also violates the city’s special status under international law.”

“Israel seized this land under the Absentees’ Property law. The US Embassy plan will violate the private property rights of Palestinian landowners and internationally established right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and gain restitution of their properties. Using the Absentees’ Property Law to confiscate land in Jerusalem also violates the city’s special status under international law.”

Adalah

The US Embassy moved to Jerusalem in 2018, a few months after former US president Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital. The embassy has since operated out of the former US Consulate in Arnona, which was expanded to include more offices.

Shtayyeh also welcomed the vote of the Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which adopted the Palestinians’ request to a legal advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the nature of the existence of the Israeli “colonial occupation on the land of the State of Palestine, including Jerusalem. He thanked the countries that sponsored and voted for the resolution.

The Palestinians have hailed the vote as a “huge diplomatic victory,” vowing to take other measures in the international arena to isolate and punish Israel. 

On the other hand, Shtayyeh called on the countries that did not support the resolution to reconsider their positions, abide by international law and “not stand on the wrong side of history because they encourage the Israeli occupation and colonialism and do not support peace and stability in the region and the world.”