Land Redemption Program
in the State of Israel


By George Desnoyers



When Israel was established as a nation, only about ten percent of the land was owned by Jews.  The new nation immediately began a sequence of programs designed to “Redeem the Land,” i.e., to transfer land from the ownership and control of Arabs to the ownership and control of Jews.


The following mechanisms are just some of those used by Israel in the last sixty years to “Redeem the Land:”


  1. declarations (in 1948) of “abandoned property” by the Department of Finance’s Custodian of Abandoned Property;
  2. declarations (1949) of “absentee property” by the Department of Finance’s Custodian of Absentee Property;
  3. the May 14, 1950 "Law of Abandoned Property;”
  4. the “Present Absentees” definition of 1950;
  5. the proclamation of "Security Areas;"
  6. the "Land Acquisition Law" of 1953;
  7. direct confiscation of Bedouin land;
  8. expulsion of Bedouins from the Negev;
  9. direct expropriation of Arab land, supposedly for “public purposes” (1950s and 1960s);
  10. expropriation of lands openly for the expansion of Jewish areas (1970s) [It was these expropriations that provoked the uprising that led to Land Day, March 30, 1976. That day saw six dead and scores of wounded among Palestinian demonstrators.];
  11. inclusion of Arab lands in territories governed by Israeli Regional Councils; and
  12. non-recognition of Arab villages, some of which have existed for longer than a hundred years.

Frequently the enforcement of the above mechanisms involved threats and other terrorist tactics intended to “encourage” Arabs to flee from their land, and also open deportations and expulsions.  Several of these tactics have been addressed in United Nations Security Council resolutions.  For example, forced deportations of hundreds of Palestinians to Lebanon were addressed in Resolution 799 (December 18, 1992).
However, United Nations resolutions have quite generally been ignored by Israel. The Israelis disobeyed the Security Council orders not to annex Greater Jerusalem (resolutions 267, 271 and 298).  They have flagrantly violated the Council's call on them to respect the Fourth Geneva Protocol and cease deportations, house demolitions, land appropriations and collective punishment.  Illegal settlements built on occupied Arab land have not been dismantled despite the international demands expressed in resolutions 446, 452 and 465.  Israel has never accepted or implemented resolution 242 (1967) which called for Israeli withdrawal from then recently occupied territories, as well as the acceptance of demilitarized zones.  It also ignored resolution 338 (October 22, 1973) which called for a cease-fire within twelve hours, immediate negotiations, and the implementation of the earlier resolution, 242.  And the Israelis never complied with several resolutions over more than two decades that ordered them to withdraw from southern
Lebanon (e.g., resolutions 425, 501, 555 and 617) until and to the extent that the Lebanese forced them out.


From 1967 to 1989 the UN Security Council passed 131 resolutions directly dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Of the 131 resolutions passed, 43 could be considered neutral while the remaining 88 either criticized and opposed the actions of Israel or judged against its interests.  Nearly half of the 88 resolutions against Israel "condemned", "censured," or "deplored" the member state or its actions.  During this time, in the UN General Assembly, 429 resolutions against Israel were passed, and Israel was condemned 321 times.  The United States has used its veto power to prevent resolutions concerning Israel from passing through the Security Council on 42 occasions since 1970.  Resolutions condemning Israel were not made under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, but rather under Chapter VI, which relates to the "Pacific Settlement of Disputes" between parties, and as such have no enforcement mechanisms and are generally considered to have no binding force under international law.