Expropriations of Private Land of Arab Citizens in Israel: An Empirical Analysis of the Regular Course of Business
Israel Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 590, 2010
21 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2009 Last revised: 4 Apr 2012
Date Written: July 10, 2009
A fairly common premise in academic research about Israel is that the State of Israel has expropriated large tracts of land from Arabs, whether citizens or Palestinian refugees. This premise does not distinguish between the taking of property, which was expropriated from Arab refugees during the War of Independence, and the expropriation of land during the State’s“regular course of business.” Blurring the distinction between land belonging to refugees and land belonging to citizens creates the impression that the State of Israel has expropriated large tracts of land as a regular “course of business.” This research isolates and clarifies the extent of “regular” expropriations on the national level according to the Lands (Acquisition for Public Purposes) Ordinance 1943 - the main and permanent tool for large scale expropriations in Israel. It shows that the common premise about expropriation of Arab citizens’ land is highly exaggerated. The Arab population’s share in the burden of expropriation was fairly small in absolute terms and is not significantly greater than the Jewish population’s share.
While a quantitative analysis of the expropriations cannot in itself produce a conclusion about harmful and unjustified influences of the expropriations on Arab citizens, a quantitative analysis of each expropriation may produce information on which to make such a conclusion. Moreover, arguing against all expropriation of lands - which actually results in the transfer of resources from Arabs to Jews, irrespective of its scope and circumstances - may entail an a priori negation of Israel’s right to use land resources and police powers to answer real public needs of the Jewish majority and can entail an a priori negation of the nature of Israel as a Jewish and democratic State - rather than a legitimate criticism on the merits of each expropriation.
Keywords: Land Law, Expropriation of Land, Taking for Public Use, Israel, Legal History, Empirical Research, Palestinians, Palestinian Refugees, Minorities, Arab - Israeli Relations, Constitutional Law, Discrimination
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