Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has overruled a decision by the Ministerial Committee on Jerusalem Affairs – which Sharansky chairs – that the Absentee Property Law should apply to East Jerusalem. What’s that about, you may ask. If you haven’t heard of the Absentee Property Law, you should have. To quote from Ha’aretz
The Absentee Property Law (sometimes known as the Abandoned Property Law) was enacted in 1950. It defines an “absentee” as a person who “at any time” in the period between November 29, 1947, and September 1, 1948, “was in any part of the Land of Israel that is outside the territory of Israel” (meaning the West Bank or the Gaza Strip) or in other Arab states. The law stipulates that the property of such an absentee would be transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Property, with no possibility of appeal or compensation. From there, by means of another law, the property was moved along, so that effectively the assets that were left behind by Palestinian refugees in 1948 (and also some of the property of Palestinians who were now citizens of Israel, the famous “present absentees”) were “transferred” to the State of Israel.
Did you get that? Anyone who was outside the Green Line at any time during a nine-month period in 1947-48 automatically forfeited all their property even if they became a citizen of Israel. 150,000 current citizens of Israel had their land stolen in this way.
Sharansky’s brainwave was to secretly backdate this law to apply to East Jerusalem, on the grounds that it had always been Israeli territory.