Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

U.S. Embassy Site in Jerusalem Challenged

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

U.S. Embassy Site in Jerusalem Challenged

Article excerpt

U.S. EMBASSY SITE IN JERUSALEM CHALLENGED

The American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ) hosted a Feb. 17 briefing on Capitol Hill to reveal the true ownership of land on which a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is slated to be built. In a three-year investigation Dr. Walid Khalidi, an internationally recognized historian of the Middle East, and author of All That Remains, discovered that the future embassy site consists of land mostly owned by Palestinians.

Armed with plot maps, he illustrated the ownership of each square of land to the audience which included diplomats, congressional aides, State Department officials, journalists, and representatives from human rights and religious groups. Painstaking investigation of land records and other documents has determined that a total of 19 Jerusalem families, 4 Christian and 15 Muslim, are the principal owners of this land. Of particular concern to U.S. officials is Dr. Khalidi's conclusion that at least 88 of the original owners of the prospective American Embassy site or their heirs are U.S. citizens. Another 43 owners are Canadians and Europeans, and hundreds have other nationalities.

The rest of the land is made up of Waqf (Muslim religious endowment) property, for which the British government was paying rent until the moment it left Palestine in May 1948.

ACJ's legal counsel on this matter, George Salem, said "the State Department is mistaken in its assertions that there are no private claims to the property." He told the Capitol Hill audience that there is an "outstanding request for a substantive meeting with the Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, or her designee to discuss these U. …

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