Israel and U.S. advance plan for U.S. Embassy in Israel on land illegally confiscated by Israel from Palestinians – several of whom are now U.S. citizens
Groups say that under plan, U.S. bears responsibility for unlawful seizure of Palestinian property
November 10, 2022, Haifa and New York – Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York sent an urgent letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Thomas R. Nides, calling on the Biden administration to immediately cancel the plan for the new U.S. Embassy Compound in Jerusalem and to demand Israeli authorities withdraw it. The letter was sent on behalf of several Palestinian heirs to the land on which the new U.S. Embassy Compound is to be built.
The letter follows the advancement of a plan to build the new U.S. Embassy Compound on land illegally confiscated from Palestinians – both refugees and internally displaced persons, several of whom are now U.S. citizens – using the 1950 Israeli Absentees’ Property Law. Archival records, found in the Israeli State Archives and published by Adalah in July 2022, clearly prove the land was owned by Palestinian families and leased temporarily to British Mandate authorities before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
Days ago, on November 7, 2022, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee published a detailed plan (Plan 101-0810796 “Diplomatic Compound – USA, Hebron Road, Jerusalem”) for a U.S. diplomatic compound in Jerusalem. The plan is subject to public objections for 60 days from the date of publication.
On December 6, 2017 then-U.S. President Trump announced that the U.S. Embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and, on May 14, 2018, opened the interim embassy compound at what was previously a U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem while waiting for a permanent new U.S. Embassy Compound to be built.
In the letter to Blinken and Nides, Adalah and the Center for Constitutional Rights argue that maintaining and expanding the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is a violation of international law, just as moving the Embassy to Jerusalem and declaring it the capital of Israel was in the first instance. Moreover, the confiscation of the land on which the U.S. Diplomatic Compound is to be built violates international law, in particular, Article 46 of the Hague Regulations. These regulations state the need to respect the right of private property and explicitly prohibit the confiscation of private property. The letter further points out that the 1950 Israeli Absentees’ Property Law has been found by both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to be a foundational tool of Israel’s oppression and domination of Palestinians within a broader apartheid system.
The organizations emphasized that several of the original landowners are now U.S. citizens. Thus, if the U.S. advances the construction of the embassy on this land, it would not only be complicit with Israel’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian-owned land, but it would also become an active participant in the unlawful seizure of the land of U.S. citizens.
Adalah and the Center for Constitutional Rights stated:
“Given the solid evidence of Palestinian ownership of the land intended for the U.S. Embassy Compound, the Biden administration must immediately withdraw its involvement in the plan. If the plan moves forward, the U.S. will not only be further entrenching the Trump administration’s international law violation, but it will be adding a new layer of violations by effectively ratifying Israel’s illegal appropriation of Palestinian property, including that of U.S. citizens.”
Read the groups’ letter here.
View the archival materials here.
Related Press Release: Adalah reveals new evidence that joint US-Israeli plan for embassy in Jerusalem is located on Palestinian private property, 10 July 2022
Adalah (“Justice” in Arabic) is an independent human rights organization and legal center founded in November 1996. Adalah works to promote human rights in Israel in general, and the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, in particular. Our work also includes defending the human rights of all individuals subject to the jurisdiction of the State of Israel, including Palestinians living under occupation in the OPT). Visit adalah.org.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.