Rights group slams Israel-US plan to establish Jerusalem ‘diplomatic compound’ on Palestinian land

Rights group slams Israel-US plan to establish Jerusalem ‘diplomatic compound’ on Palestinian land
Palestinian rights NGO Adalah called for the 'immediate cancellation of the plan' before Biden touches down in Israel.
2 min read
11 July, 2022
The US embassy has been in Jerusalem since Trump first recognised the city as Israel's capital in 2018 [Getty]

Israel and the US are planning to set up a diplomatic compound in Jerusalem affiliated with the US embassy on expropriated Palestinian land, human rights NGO Adalah said on Sunday.

The US and Israel drafted a plan for a large diplomatic complex in southern Jerusalem about a year and a half ago, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Sunday. According to the plan, the US embassy would move into that complex.

Adalah said "new evidence" of plans to build the compound had been discovered,  and the expansion would take place on Palestinian land. 

"New discoveries of archival records by Adalah, offer proof of Palestinian ownership of the lands designated for the US embassy in Jerusalem," the NGO, which defends Palestinian citizens of Israel and the occupied territories, said in a statement.

The records uncovered show that the land set aside for the diplomatic compound was seized by Israel using the Absentees’ Property Law widely used to dispossess Palestinian refugees of their property in the years after the establishment of the state of Israel, Adalah said.

Rashid Khalidi, a US citizen and a descendant of some of the owners of the expropriated land, said: "the fact that the US government is now participating actively with the Israeli government in this project means that it is actively infringing on the property rights of the legitimate owners of these properties, including many US citizens."

"In advance of President Biden’s visit to Israel, descendants of original owners, who include US citizens and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, demand the immediate cancellation of the plan," Adalah said.

The US embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018 by former President Donald Trump, a decision seen by many as a betrayal of the Palestinian people and the peace process. 

Trump was the first US president to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, enacting a 1995 congressional decision that called for the relocation.

All previous presidents had made use of a waiver option, delaying the decision. 

The first plan to build a US embassy at the site was initiated in the 1990s by Israel, and since then the land was set aside for the building of a diplomatic compound, Haaretz reported.