Rights groups warn against Israeli move to register land adjacent to al-Aqsa
Story Code : 1001573
The process of the “settlement of land title procedure” was initiated last week in the Abu Thor area as well as the Umayyad Palaces site adjacent to the southern wall of al-Aqsa Mosque, reports said.
According to Middle East Eye, Israeli rights groups Ir Amim and Bimkom said in a joint statement on Monday that the fund allocated to the procedure has been largely utilized to register land for illegal settlements and will ultimately lead to further Palestinian dispossession.
“[The procedure] carries possible disastrous ramifications for hundreds of Palestinian homes in Abu Thor, while the other has an acute potential for escalating tensions due to its highly sensitive location in close proximity to al-Aqsa,” the statement reads.
“There is grave concern that the state is advancing the settlement of title process in the Umayyad Palaces/Ophel site to enable Israeli takeover of this territory through its formal registration as state land while aiding state-backed settler groups in their aggressive efforts to gain control of these highly sensitive locations."
Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, deputy director of the al-Quds Islamic Waqf, in his remarks on Monday stressed that changing the ownership of Umayyad Palaces was invalid and in breach of the Geneva Convention.
In 2018, the Israeli regime for the first time began promoting the “settlement of land title procedure”.
In 2020, Ir Amim said the process was being used as a tool to “seize more land in East Jerusalem [al-Quds], leading to the expansion of Israeli settlements and further Palestinian dispossession”.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.
All Israeli settlements are deemed illegal under international law as they are built on the occupied land. The United Nations Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in a series of resolutions.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its capital.
The area south of al-Aqsa Mosque is also the scene of Israeli excavations that Palestinians say threaten the foundation of the holy site.
On Monday, the Council of Endowments, Islamic Affairs, and Holy Places said excavations made by the regime in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque were threatening its foundations, saying new cracks have appeared in the floor of the sacred site.