The Israel Land Administration (ILA) has put a plan in place which would see land in the village of Lifta, a former Palestinian village situated on the north-west edge of Jerusalem sold to private developers. A plan which would see Palestinian history completely stripped from the village.
Written by Sophie O’Brien.
- The village of Lifta today.
The ILA plan calls for amongst other things, the building of 212 housing units exclusively for Jews, a luxury hotel, a shopping mall and a museum. In objection to these building plans, a large petition has been signed by various activists, NGO’s and descendents of Lifta and submitted by Attorney Sami Arshid. As a result of this petition a temporary injunction was issued by Judge Yigal Marzel on the 7th of March ordering the ILA to freeze publication of results for tender which would see plots of land sold off to these private developers.
Over 500 Arab villages were depopulated or demolished during the 1948 war by the ruthless colonial Zionist forces. Lifta is an exception in this respect as it is ‘The only village which remains as it was before 1948,’ Daphna Golan asserts, a Professor of Law at the Hebrew University and organiser of the petition to save Lifta. Whilst on the surface the plan is sold as a rejuvenation project bringing life to an otherwise ‘abandoned’ village, Golan is adamant that it is primarily a political venture. ‘It is a building plan geared towards erasing the past,’ she asserts. In other words, serving to continue the process of judaization of the land, a policy which aims to eradicate Palestinian history, memory and presence.
Most of the original buildings and houses still remain somewhat intact in Lifta, a village which dates back to biblical times. For Yacoub Odeh, a former Lifta resident, a human rights activist and a central figure in the Save Lifta campaign, this is bitter sweet. He speaks of his memories of living in Lifta with great fondness. It is tainted however with the reality that he no longer has any right to live in the village from which he was forcefully removed by the pre-state Zionist terrorist gangs working under the auspices of the Zionist movement. ‘I remember the bakery where I went with my mother to eat bread with olive oil and zatar, it was delicious…I will never forgive those who stole our history and our memory,’ he says.
Lifta was one of the first villages occupied before the 1948 war and the creation of the Israeli state. Its proximity to Jerusalem meant that it was of great strategic importance to the Zionist movement; Yacoub explain, ‘Whoever controlled Lifta controlled Jerusalem.’ In refutation of Zionist claims that depict the pre-state Zionist movement as a heroic, pioneering enterprise, Yacoub describes how the Muslim and Christian inhabitants of Lifta were evicted from their homes through the use of brutal, racist tactics. ‘They bombed the homes of twenty people…but the Jews were allowed to stay.’ The terrorising of the Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the village ‘achieved the Zionist goal of ethnic cleansing,’ Yacoub continued. After 1967, Jewish immigrants were moved into the houses of those who had been forcefully removed. It is the descendents of these families who remain the sole inhabitants of Lifta today.
The ILA plan to redevelop the village of Lifta is symbolic for the reason that it nullifies the possibility of the Palestinian refugees who once lived there of ever returning to their homes. For Yacoub, this is the greatest injustice. The Israeli Law of return grants Jews from around the world the possibility to ‘return’ to their ‘homeland’ and gain citizenship. The original inhabitants of Lifta are, however, not awarded with this option, ‘I was evicted from my house 63 years ago and I don’t have the right to return,’ Yacoub said.
Successive Israeli governments have to date managed to maintain an unstable status quo whereby all the so-called ‘final status’ issues have been left up in the air. Yacoub asserts that the right of return is prerequisite for peace, ‘Without the right of return, there will be more killing and more blood.’
Further evidence that the ILA plans are aimed at seizing the identity and completing the Judaization process of the last remaining Palestinian village can be seen in the details. There are plans to build a museum which Yacoub asserts will showcase a purely Jewish recollection of the history of Lifta, ‘Surely it will not mention the Palestinian people; they see with one eye only.’
Furthermore, the cemetery where many former Palestinian residents of Lifta have been buried has been designated as public land in the plan, thus creating the possibility that it may in the future be removed for the purposes of further building.
The village of Lifta is significant for the reason that it reminds us of a time when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived harmoniously on the land. In this sense, Golan asserts that ‘It should be used as a place where Jews and Arabs can meet to acknowledge their shared history.’ If the ILA plans are approved, it will therefore be removing a powerful symbol of reconciliation. More ominously, the ILA plans which are portrayed as being devoid of any political significance are in fact a painful reminder that the colonial Zionist enterprise is still thriving.
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From: Daphna Golan <email@example.com>
7 March 2011
Temporary Injunction Issued against Tender for Building Plots in Lifta Village
Coalition to Save Lifta
Administrative Petition: 8661-03-11
Following a petition submitted yesterday (6 March), Judge Yigal Marzel issued a temporary injunction today ordering the Israel Land Administration to freeze publication of the results of a tender to lease plots for building in the village of Lifta. The petition was submitted by Attorney Sami Arshid on behalf of Jerusalem activists, including descendents of Lifta, the Bnei Lifta Association, Rabbis for Human Rights and the Jafra Association.
In their petition against the Israel Land Administration, the petitioners requested court intervention to prevent the transfer of assets and property in Lifta to private hands for the establishment of an exclusive real estate project and to halt destruction of the village, which represents a final testimony to the Arab villages and culture of scenery that were widespread in Israel throughout history until the early 20th century.
According to the petitioners, “in the given situation and according to which the village of Lifta is an abandoned village and its original inhabitants live as refugees at a distance of only a few hundred metres from their village, it would have been befitting to abstain from all construction in the area and certainly to prevent building that would result in destruction of the village and the complete dispossession of the rights of the original inhabitants of the place”. The petitioners further write that the “marketing of plots for building in the village of Lifta and furthermore the construction of new buildings on the village lands and in place of the existing village could thwart the ability to preserve the existing village and foil any possibility of reconstructing the historic structure of the village, and everything that is derived from this.”
The petitioners requested that the court order an annulment of the tender to sell plots in Lifta and order the Israel Land Administration to desist from any action that would damage the physical and cultural heritage of the place, until an inclusive planning process is completed that includes the area of Lifta, and which will include planning for preservation of the site in accordance with professional standards and with public participation.
A professional opinion of five senior architects and preservation and planning professionals in Israel was attached to the petition, concerning serious preservation defects in the tender. In the opinion it was determined that the ILA tender does not meet the preservation criteria accepted in Israel and throughout the world, and that full data does not exist that would permit the marketing of the plots and issuance of building permits. Authors of the opinion determine that the tender process must be frozen until completion of the detailed documentation of Lifta, preparation of a building and development plan and conclusion of a development agreement between the ILA and the Jerusalem Municipality.
For additional details:
Dapha Golan Yaacoub Odeh (from Lifta)
Attorney Sami Arshid: 02 6231244
Professional opinion: Architect Shmuel Groag
הודעה לעיתונות- 7 מרץ 2011
הקואליציה להצלת ליפתא
צו מניעה זמני למכרז להחכרת מגרשי בנייה בכפר ליפתא
עתירה מינהלית 8661-03-11
בעקבות עתירה שהוגשה אתמול (א', 6/3) הוציא היום השופט יגאל מרזל צו מניעה זמני המורה למינהל מקרקעי ישראל להקפיא את פרסום תוצאות המכרז המציע לחכירה מגרשים לבנייה בכפר ליפתא. העתירה הוגשה על ידי עורך הדין סאמי ארשיד בשם פעילים ירושלמים ביניהם ילידי ליפתא, עמותת בני ליפתא, עמותת רבנים למען זכויות אדם ועמותת ג'פרא לקידום המורשת הבנויה בישוב הערבי בארץ.
בעתירתם נגד מינהל מקרקעי ישראל ביקשו העותרים את התערבות בית המשפט, במטרה למנוע העברת נכסים וקרקעות בליפתא לידיים פרטיות כדי להקים מיזם נדל"ני יוקרתי ולעצור את הרס הכפר, המהווה עדות אחרונה לכפרים הערביים ולנוף תרבות שהיה נפוץ בישראל לאורך ההיסטוריה עד תחילת המאה העשרים.
לטענת העותרים, "במצב הנתון ולפיו הכפר ליפתא הוא כפר נטוש ובעליו המקוריים גרים כפליטים במרחק של מאות מטרים בודדים מכפרם מן הראוי היה להימנע מכל בנייה במקום ובוודאי להימנע מבנייה שיש בה כדי להביא להרס הכפר ונישול טוטאלי של תושבי המקום המקוריים מזכויותיהם". עוד כותבים העותרים, כי "שיווק מגרשים לבניה בכפר ליפתא וכפועל יוצא הקמת מבנים חדשים על אדמות הכפר ובמקום הכפר הקיים, יש בה משום סיכול היכולת של שימור הכפר הקיים וסיכול כל אפשרות לשחזור המבנה ההיסטורי של הכפר על כל המשתמע מכך".
העותרים מבקשים כי ביהמ"ש יורה על ביטול המכרז למכירת מגרשים בליפתא ויורה למינהל מקרקעי ישראל להימנע מכל פעולה שיש בה כדי לפגוע במורשת הפיזית והתרבותית של המקום, עד לאחר שיושלם הליך תכנון כולל של אזור הכפר, שיכלול תכנון לשימור של האתר לפי אמות מידה מקצועיות ותוך שיתוף הציבור.
לעתירה צורפה חוות דעת מקצועית של חמישה מבכירי האדריכלים ואנשי השימור והתכנון בישראל, הנוגעת לכשלי שימור חמורים במכרז. בחוו"ד נקבע, כי המכרז של ממ"י אינו עומד בקריטריונים של שימור המקובלים בארץ ובעולם, וכי לא קיימים הנתונים המלאים המאפשרים שיווק מגרשים והוצאת היתרי בנייה. מחברי חוו"ד קובעים, כי יש להקפיא את מהלך המכרז עד להשלמת מהלך התיעוד המפורט של ליפתא, הכנת תכנית בינוי ופיתוח וחתימה על הסכם פיתוח בין המינהל לעיריית י-ם.
העותרים: דפנה גולן – 054-8820698 ; יעקוב עודה (בני ליפתא)-052-2872840
עורך הדין סאמי ארשיד- 02-6231244
חוות דעת מקצועית- אדריכל שמואל גרואג- 050-5922428
מנקים את ליפתא
Saturday, 11 March 2011, beginning at 10:00, in the Lifta parking lot in the city entrance, Ramot Road.
For detailed directions:
Rimmon Lavi 0548020576
Daphna Golan 0548820698
We will meet in order to clean and preserve the village for future generations.
The village of Lifta is the last surviving Arab village of its kind, the rest having been destroyed after 1948. It is the only village that can be preserved as a witness to traditional forms of architecture and argiculture that have otherwise almost completely disappeared.
Like hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who left their homes during the war of 1948, and who have never been allowed to return to their villages, the original inhabitants of Lifta have never been allowed to return to their village. Many of them live today in East Jerusalem, but are not included, like most of us – inhabitants of Jerusalem, experts in preservation, and others – in the process of planning intended for the village.
Stop the destruction of Lifta! Stop the construction of yet another memory-effacing site of luxury and leisure!
Come with broom and trash bag, and join the cleaning and preservation of Lifta, together with the original inhabitants – today refugees – of Lifta.
For more information about the event, contact Daphna Golan 0548820698
For support, action, and donations – Ilan Shtayer, 0545-69-20-89, firstname.lastname@example.org
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From: Daphna Golan <email@example.com>
Subject: ליפתא---ואירוע ביום שבת להפצה
שומרים על ליפתא
عيوننا على لفتا
Watching over Lifta
ביום ששי 11 מארס 2011 מהשעה 10.00
נפגש כדי לנקות ולשמר את הכפר למען הדורות הבאים, יחד עם
תושבי הכפר (כיום פליטים). בואו עם שקית לאשפה ומטאטא
يوم السبت 12 مارس الساعة العاشرة صباحاً
نلتقي لننظّف ونحافظ على القرية لأجل الأجيال القادمة, جنباً إلى جنب أهلها اللذين لجئوا. تعالوا مع مكانس وأكياس قمامة
On Friday, 11 March 2011, beginning at 10:00
We will meet in order to clean and preserve the village for future generations, together with the residents of Lifta, now refugees.
יחד נגיד: עצרו את הריסת לפתא! כיבדו את זכויות הפליטים! ליפתא לא תהייה עוד שכונת פאר סגורה ומתבדלת!
لنرفع صوتنا معاً: أوقفوا دمار لفتا! احترموا حقوق اللاجئين!
لفتا لن تصير حياً فاخراً منطوياً ومعزولاً!
Together we will say: Stop the destruction of Lifta! Respect the rights of the refugees!
Prof. Daphna Golan Agnon
Prof. Daphna Golan Agnon teaches in the faculty of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2005 Golan published a memoir entitled “Next Year in Jerusalem,” where she argued that Israel abuses Palestinian prisoners, in addition to claiming that the “occupation” is “persecuting Palestinians” and “destroying Israel from within.” She is a founder of B’tselem, in addition to being the founding director of Bat Shalom, which supports dividing Jerusalem, believes that all Israeli settlements violate international law and are contrary to peace; supports a Palestinian right of return and believes that Israel is responsible for the Palestinian refugee problem, and supports an Israeli withdrawal from the Sheba Farms and Golan Heights.
In December 2010, Agnon wrote an editorial in Haaretz where she complained about the Gaza blockade, the existence of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, having separate legal systems for Israelis and Palestinians, claimed that Israel stole land from Palestinians, claimed that Israel is an apartheid state, and claimed that it was her right and duty to challenge Israeli law. During that same month, Agnon wrote an article for the Israeli Occupation Archive that claimed that Israel arrested drummers and clowns that believe in nonviolence, that she attended a demonstration where her son was arrested, accused Israel of engaging in discriminatory practices, claimed that the arrested drummers were challenging a racist order, etc.
In 2009, NGO Monitor reported that Agnon participated in a UN mini-Durban Conference, where she consulted a programme claiming that Israel is an apartheid state. Also in 2009, Agnon gave a lecture in Istanbul, which was hosted by the United Nations Public Forum in Support of the Palestinian People. At this lecture, Agnon accused Israel of discriminating against Palestinians and criticized the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah. During the Gaza War, she forcibly tore down signs on Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus that supported the IDF. In 2008, Agnon wrote an editorial in Haaretz where she criticized Israel for not talking to Hamas and Hezbollah, claimed that Israel imprisons one-fifth of the Palestinian population in violation of international law, compared Israel to South Africa under apartheid, stated that Gilad Shalit is in captivity because Israel is unwilling to listen to the Palestinian narrative, etc. Agnon signed onto a petition supporting students and lecturers that refuse to serve in the Palestinian territories, supports a Palestinian right of return, and does not believe that Israel should be a Jewish state.