OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel has stepped up sales of the properties of Palestinians who in 1948 fled or were driven out of what is now Israel, a human rights group said on Monday, adding that the move went against both Israeli and international law. "Selling these properties constitutes the final expropriation of the right to property of Palestinian refugees, despite the special legal, historical and political status of these properties," the Adalah legal center said.
The Israel (Zionist Jihadist) Lands Administration has carried out 80 such auctions so far in 2009, 106 in 2008 and 96 in 2007, the rights group added.
The sale of the Palestinian properties is illegal under Israeli law, the group said, as the ownership of the properties was transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Properties until a political solution is reached to the refugee issue.
"The sale of Palestinian refugee properties [also] contradicts international humanitarian law, which stipulates the need to respect the right of private property and explicitly prohibits the final expropriation of private property following the termination of warfare," it added in a statement.
Adalah sent a letter to various Israeli authorities last month demanding the cancellation of the invitations to bid on the properties.
The Israeli human rights group also plans to appeal to the Israeli supreme court over the issue.
Some 760,000 Palestinians either fled or were driven out of their homes when the state of Israel was created in 1948 and today the refugees and their descendants number some 4.6 million people scattered across the Middle East and around the world. - AFP
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