Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Israeli high court dismisses claim of Husseini family to the Shepherd hotel
Israel's Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the prominent Palestinian family Al-Hussseini could not claim ownership of the landmark Shepherd hotel in East Jerusalem -- paving the way for a Jewish settlement project.
The family, heirs to the notorious mufti Haj Ain al-Husseini, said the Shepherd Hotel, now partially demolished, is a symbol of the Palestinian rights to their land and to East Jerusalem, and criticized the court ruling. "This property, which is legitimately ours, represents the Palestinians' rights to their land and to Jerusalem," Mona Husseini, heir to the property and Husseini's granddaughter, said on Monday.
The family said, however, they would continue to seek legal action. "The court clearly sided with the other party, and this proves that the Israeli courts have never been fair to Palestinians," said Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian Authority-appointed mayor of Jerusalem and a member of the extended family.
The Shepherd Hotel was built in the 1930s and served as the home of the mufti. It was declared "absentee property" by Israel after it was captured and annexed to East Jerusalem in 1967. The title was transferred to an Israeli firm, which sold it in 1985 to Irving Moskowitz, a Florida businessman and patron of Jewish settlers. In 2009, Israel's Jerusalem city hall approved a project to replace the building with a block of 20 apartments.
In dismissing the family's case, the court said too much time had passed since Israeli authorities had transferred the property to private developers for a legal challenge to be brought, a lawyer for the petitioners said. The family said it had been unaware at the time that the site had been sold off.