The Possession of History and the Dispossession of Silwan’s Palestinians
Ottoman law
Ateret Cohanim
Israeli settlements
property confiscation

Since 1967, the slogan “restoring Jerusalem to its Jewish glory” has served as a rallying cry for the further colonization of the occupied eastern part of the city by the Israeli government and settler organizations alike. Jewish settlement in Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods invokes moral claims to Jewish sovereignty based on biblical history and material claims to pre-1948 properties of Jews in these neighborhoods. This essay examines Jewish settler groups’ utilization of Israel’s political-legal infrastructure to advance their colonization projects at the very heart of Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem. More specifically, it examines an area of Silwan where Ateret Cohanim, through its representatives, has initiated eviction lawsuits against dozens of Palestinian families in the Israeli magistrate court, alleging trespass of Jewish-endowed waqf land established in the 1880s. As elsewhere in East Jerusalem, some of the targeted families in Silwan were originally displaced either from areas that became Israel after 1948 or from the Old City in 1967.

Author biography: 

Ahmad Amara is a human rights lawyer and researcher with a special focus on Ottoman law, the Beersheba region, and Jerusalem. He is a senior researcher at the Human Rights Clinic of al-Quds University, and a part-time lecturer at NYU Tel-Aviv.