Ramallah: Increasing numbers of Palestinian landowners are accepting monetary compensation for land and properties they owned inside the Green Line, which stakes out territories claimed by the Israeli state, community leaders in the areas have warned.

Active groups of land dealers and lawyers have been implementing the Israeli regime’s plan to convince the displaced Palestinian landowners to accept compensation deals and give up their rights to their lands and properties.

“The active land dealers and lawyers work under direct auspices of the Israeli government which originally put the plan,” said Sulaiman Al Fahmawi, the Secretary General of the Displaced Union in Israel in a warning statement. “The Israeli government is struggling to convince landowners who were displaced from their villages and towns during the 1948 Nakba [‘Catastrophe’ under which the Israeli regime was established in Palestine] to give up their land and properties in return for monetary compensation.”

Land dealers and lawyers who work for the Israeli government have been targeting Palestinian landowners not only inside Israel but also in the West Bank and around the world.

Abu Samir, a Palestinian resident of Azun, between the West Bank cities of Nablus and Qalqilia, told Gulf News that he had been informed by his brother who lives in Amman that an Italian bank in the Jordanian capital was ready to pay him, his brother and their two other sisters a total of 8 million Jordanian dinars (Dh41.33 million) in return for the land of their deceased father. The family’s 40 donums of land located near Kfar Saba in Israel is registered in the name of the siblings’ father and the bank was ready to buy from anyone willing to give up his or her right to the land.

Palestinian leaders and local welfare organisations inside the Green Line are aware of the regime’s plan and have been leading a campaign to prevent Palestinian landowners from accepting monetary compensation for land and property they owned in Israeli controlled territory. Under the title of ‘No to giving up our fathers’ and grandfathers’ land’, the campaign aims to thwart the Israeli government’s plan.

“The Zionist movement focuses on its aggressive colonisation and expansionary approach of a land without a people for a people without a land,” said Mohammad Barakah, who heads the Higher Follow-Up Committee inside the Green Line. “The mere existence of Palestinians inside [the Green Line], the natural growth of their population and their survival on the land presents a serious challenge for the Zionist movement, and so it tries to use any means to force the Palestinian people to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, and on a private level, to convince the landowners to sell their land and property to the state.”

Barakah warned Palestinians inside the Green Line and Palestinians all over the world against giving up their lands and properties in exchange for monetary compensation, which he branded to be “un-nationalistic and immoral conduct because the land is for the Palestinians to pass from generation to generation.”

A strongly worded joint statement by all the political and religious parties inside the Green Line warned that in the event the landowners sold their lands to the Zionists, the Palestinian right to return ends up as a mere empty slogan that stands for nothing. The statement said that Israel would be willing to pay to end the Palestinians’ inherent right of return to their land once and for all. “The right of return will truly be impossible to implement if the landowners give up their undisputed historic and nationalistic rights,” said the statement. “This is a serious and secretive Zionist trick, which the Palestinians must be fully aware of and use all means at disposal to fight and thwart or else there will be catastrophic implications.”