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Israel Supreme Court rejects appeal over historic Jerusalem property

The Israeli Supreme Court [official website] on Monday dismissed a Palestinian family's appeal claiming ownership of a historic property in Jerusalem. The Husseini family claimed that they are the rightful heirs and owners of land that was once the Shepherd Hotel, also known as the former residence of Hajj Amin Husseini [USHMM backgrounder], who served as a prominent Muslim leader in Jerusalem from 1921 to 1937 and who opposed Jewish settlement in Jerusalem after World War II. Israel seized the property during the 1960s under the Absentees' Property Law [text] and in 1985 sold the property to a wealthy American-Jewish businessman, Irving Moskowitz, who planned to demolish the hotel and build apartments for Jewish settlers [Reuters report]. Moskowitz demolished the hotel in 2011 amid international criticism [BBC report], but further construction has been delayed. The court said that the family waited too long to oppose the sale of the property to Moskowitz and so were unable to file suit. The family proposed building an Arab-Israeli peace and coexistence center [Haaretz report] on the land, but Moskowitz refused to consider the offer. The family said they will continue to fight for the property [WAFA report] under international law.

Israel's policy toward Palestinians and Jewish settlement continues to create tension in the country. Israel announced last week that the country will sever ties [JURIST report] to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] after it commenced an international investigation into Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The UNHRC launched an independent investigation a week earlier to determine the effect that Israeli settlements have had on the civil, political, economic and cultural rights of the Palestinian people. In February, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Israel to change its policies [JURIST report] that forbid Palestinians from traveling through and living in Gaza and the West Bank. The report described the policy as causing separation within Palestinian families when some are trapped inside Israel while their family members are forbidden from entering. In January, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] a law that prevents Palestinians who marry Israelis from obtaining Israeli citizenship.

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