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From Mr. Sani Khoury, Attorney at Law - Representing the Nassar Family in their effort to Re-Register the Nassar Family Farm (also known as the Tent of Nations) according to Israeli requirements:
On November 21st, a session was held for the hearing of evidence in the case of the registration of the land of the Nassar Family before the Military Committee for the Registration of Lands.
One hundred years ago the Nassar Family bought 400 dunams of land and built its house on the location where the Tent of Nations exists today. The family possesses the original purchase documents and maps, and their ownership of the land was registered during the time of the British Mandate in the early 1920's. These have all been submitted to the Committee for the Registration of Lands.
The session today was set for the hearing of evidence and it was supposed to be the final session since the Committee declared that all evidence should have been submitted, and all witnesses would get their chance to testify today. Different consular delegations requested to attend the meeting in order to demonstrate support from the Nassar family and to try to witness the process of the registration of his land.
In spite of my approach to the head of the Committee requesting permission for the consular delegations to attend, the head of Committee informed me that the session was secret and had to be held behind closed doors according to the law. Thus, my request to allow the delegations to attend was rejected. It seems the Committee is not interested in any third party observing the proceedings but wants to keep the entire process secret. Of course, there can be no logical explanation for secrecy in such technical proceedings such as the registration of land!
In 1991 the Israeli Authorities, within the context of trying to expand the settlement of Neve Daniel, declared the great majority of 400 dunams of the Nassar family land as "State Land". They only left the Nassar family home and the adjacent gardens out of this declaration.
The declaration of land as "State Land" is the major legal mechanism by which land is taken from the Palestinians and given to the settlements. Since then the Nassar family has been trying to re-register their land according to the new Israeli system in order to protect it. (This process has included approaching the Supreme Court numerous times, and it was the Supreme Court that sent the family to re-register the land according to the new system).
The session today was supposed to hear objections to the registration mainly from the Custodian of Absentee Properties who is in charge of “State Land” and also minor objections from neighbors who objected to very minor issues (certain rights of passage).
Unfortunately the Custodian of Absentee Properties did not bother to attend today's session and in spite of the request to dismiss his objection, the Committee postponed the session until January 16, 2023. They requested that notification regarding the proceedings be sent to the head of the Custodian of Absentee Properties.
Thus it is clear that the Committee is not interested in following proper procedure and dismissing the objection, but in fact is interested in delaying the proceedings again and again. Unfortunately it is clear that in spite of the fact that the Nassar family filed for the re-registration of its land appropriately according to the new system, the authorities are continuing to drag their feet regarding this process without any explanation. Technically and until the land is re-registered, the previous declaration of this private family land as "State Land" still stands – something that seems to be the reason why the authorities are dragging their feet. This prevents final protection for the land and prevents the Nassar family from being able to freely cultivate their land.
Bishop Ivan Abrahams of South Africa presents the World Methodist Council Peace Award 2018 to Daoud Nassar at Tent of Nations in the West Bank, occupied Palestinian territory.
Take action to help Tent of Nations!
This multi-generational family peace project, beloved and celebrated around the world, needs our voices again, right now!
UPDATE, 21 NOVEMBER 2022:
The hearing has been rescheduled yet again! Now the date is 16 January 2023. In the column on the right of this page, see the report from the attorney representing the Nassars. You can still TAKE ACTION with the buttons you will find by scrolling down the page.
UPDATE, 27 OCTOBER 2022:
The hearing for registration of the Nassar family's land has been re-scheduled for 21 November 2022.
SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE for actions that can help them in their long struggle to keep their land and continue the remarkable peace-building endeavor, Tent of Nations.
The Tent of Nations peace project
is located on the Nassar family’s
100-acre farm, six miles from
Bethlehem. It is in Area C of the
West Bank, occupied Palestinian
territory, which means it is under
full Israeli military control.
For many years, this wonderful farm has been slowly strangled by the Israeli military occupation, surrounded by expanding Israeli settlements that are illegally colonizing the West Bank.
The Nassar family purchased the land over one hundred years ago, and they have been farming it ever since. For decades, they have been in a continuous legal struggle with the Israeli government and courts, crossing every legal hurdle to establish their ownership of their land.
Nevertheless, they continue to be attacked, portions of their land destroyed, access roads and services cut off. In spite of the military and vigilante violence they have suffered and all the legal maneuvers to remove them, the Nassars have found extraordinary ways to remain steadfast and to thrive.
Twenty one years ago, in 2001, the Nassar family named their farm "Tent of Nations," receiving visitors from around the world to foster a connection between their land and people of good will.
They have dedicated their farm and their family to peaceful co existence and sustainable agriculture, which they have taught to thousands of volunteers; in 2019, they had close to 10,000 international visitors. The Nassars also host educational programs for Palestinian women and children in their area.
Tent of Nations is supported by numerous Christian, Jewish and other religious
organizations in the U.S. and Europe. United Methodists and many others organize
visits to the farm, help support Tent of Nations’ educational and peace-building programs, and sponsor volunteers who live and work on the farm.
SHARING IS POWERFUL TOO:
Help Needed Now
In 2006, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Nassars could begin the re-registration of their property. They have to do that because they are in Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli control.
For fifteen years, the Israeli military and government have repeatedly delayed and stalled that process. But in 2019, the Nassars finally were able to complete the re-registration process!
The Israeli Registration Committee met in 2021. The Nassars have been waiting for that process to be concluded ever since.
Over the past 18 months there has been continued violence directed at family members and the property; including theft of animals and produce, destruction of irrigation lines, and two intentional fires which destroyed fruit and olive trees. The situation for this family grows more urgent and life threatening by the day. Settlement expansion and road construction have accelerated and are isolating the farm.
Boulders block access to the Nassar family farm, Tent of Nations.
Intentional fires have tragically destroyed over 1000 fruit trees.
In June last year, Israeli soldiers entered the land last year with a bulldozer and without warning, destroying approximately 50 fruit trees; similar attacks have been committed several times in recent years.
Israel must complete the re-registration of the Nassar farm now!
Re-registration will be be the official recognition that the Nassars own this land, and it will end their legal struggle.
The Nassars have a hearing coming up on November 21st, and they need our voices calling for US government leaders to act.
For those in the US:
1. Contact the U.S. Congress
U.S. legislators can make an impact by contacting the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC and the U.S. State Department, to ensure the hearing is held on the 27th and that officials from the US embassy attend the hearing in support of the Nassar family's claim to their land.
Photo: "We refuse to be enemies" - this message greets all visitors at the main entrance to the farm known as Tent of Nations
For everyone in the world:
2. Sign a Petition to the U.S. State Department
Join this message to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asking that U.S. officials from our embassy attend the land registration hearing this coming week, in support of the Nassar family's ownership of their land.