Ramallah: Property associations should be immediately set up in Occupied East Jerusalem to counter the Israeli colonists’ property purchasing spree and prevent passing property to Israelis, Palestinian activists say.
“Palestinian-owned properties, including lands and houses, are being passed to Israelis via Palestinian agents at an extremely high rate. This invasion should be countered now or else we will wake up one day to find that nothing of the occupied East Jerusalem will remain in the names of Palestinian owners,” warned the occupied East Jerusalem activist, Mazen Abu Qalbain.
The Israeli colonists’ organisations are extremely active in the holy city, buying whatever Palestinian-owned properties they can through recruited agents. “The size of the lands and number of houses the Israelis have already bought is scary,” he told Gulf News.
As part of long term campaigns, Jewish colonists target Palestinians who suffer financial hardships and offer them large sums of money in return for their lands and houses. “The Israeli colonists would not announce the deal till after the death of the seller unless the property was needed urgently,” he said.
Zionist groups who believe they have a Biblical right to settle in Jerusalem have been campaigning for years to take control of Palestinian properties there. Israel considers the entirety of Jerusalem as its “eternal capital”.
The Israeli colonists meanwhile have already been given strict instructions to avoid selling their properties to Arabs, with a huge number of Israeli organizations spreading all over Jerusalem ready to buy from the Israelis who stand in need to sell on financial grounds. “Israeli colonists have ensured that properties would never be passed to Arabs or Palestinians,” he said.
Israel imposes high taxes and fees on the Arab residents of occupied East Jerusalem, measure seen as aimed to force them into debts which they are often unable to settle. “Almost all the Arab residents of occupied East Jerusalem have large debts with the Israeli government. When the debts reach a certain level, their properties are seized and sold in auctions,” he said.
“Unfortunately, most of the Arab residents of the holy city are not aware of the importance of their properties after they fail to stand up to the financial pressure,” said Fakhri Abu Diyab, a political activist and a member of the Silwan Defence Committee.
“Jerusalem needs Palestinian and Arab organisations to buy from Palestinians who need to sell their properties and thus foil Israeli attempts to buy those properties,” he said.
Palestinian natives of occupied East Jerusalem are familiar with the agents who buy properties and pass them to the Israelis, but others are believed to work under cover.
Activists in East Jerusalem get involved in some cases to stop certain transactions, but often fail as they cannot match Israeli offers. “We have successfully stopped a single transaction and paid the price for the property, but we do not have the resources for the big houses and lands,” he said.
Abu Qalbain said that the holy land activists would only be able to foil the Israeli attempts to buy Palestinian owned properties if they have the financial resources. “So it is the duty of the Palestinians outside Jerusalem, the Arabs and all the Muslims to give a helping financial hand to those activists to buy the properties and register them in the names of those who pay the prices,” he said. “This is the only way to counter the Israeli attack on occupied East Jerusalem to avoid losing it entirely,” he said.
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