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{This column was written by Gidon Shaviv & Tamar Sternthal of CAMERA and originally posted to the CAMERA website}

“They (Israelis) are trying to uproot us from Jerusalem, they are stealing the houses, the trees and the stones of the city,” laments Nura Sub-Laban, a Palestinian woman featured in The Associated Press article today by Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh (“Palestinian eviction case spotlights Jerusalem settler push“).


Set against the backdrop of the disputed “gold-topped Dome of the Rock,” AP’s account of the looming eviction of Sub-Laban from their home in Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter reflects a narrative of supposed Jewish encroachment in the holy city at the expense of dispossessed Palestinians, blameless “victims of discriminatory use of Israeli property law.” It is also fundamentally wrong, based as it is on a grossly misrepresented basic facts about the Sub-Laban case, initially ignoring critical essential information and falsely casting it as part “of a wider settlement campaign.”

The family’s failure to move back into the building following extensive, drawn out renovations completed in 2001 jeopardized their status as “protected tenants.” Originally, this critical information was not even hinted at in the lengthy article although it is the linchpin of the legal case against the Sub-Labans. Only after CAMERA contacted editors did AP add a paragraph about the court’s critical finding that the family did not reside in the home for years after 2001.

As the article correctly states, the Sub-Labans were never the owners of the property, but rather enjoyed “protected tenant” status. That status can be lost if the tenant abandons the property without intention of returning – and it is irrelevant whether the tenant is Jewish or Palestinian. Thus, contrary to the claims of Ir Amim, the organization for which Ahmed Sub-Laban works, the family members are not “victims of discriminatory use of Israeli property law.”

The article’s account of events until 2001 is correct. It relates that before the 1948 war, the building was “owned by a trust for Kollel Galicia, a group that collected funds in Eastern Europe for Jewish families in Jerusalem.” When Jordan occupied Jerusalem in 1948, the property fell under the control of the Jordanian administration and was rented to the Palestinian Sub-Laban family in 1953. Following the 1967 war, when Israel gained control of eastern Jerusalem, the property was, according to the AP: handed to an Israeli government department, the General Custodian. Palestinian residents were recognized as “protected tenants,” provided they continued to live in the apartments and pay rent to the Custodian. [Ahmed] Sub-Laban said his family was forced out of the apartment between 1984 and 2001, but did not lose their protected tenancy during this period. The article later adds: “In 2001, a judge ordered a second entrance to be opened, enabling the family to return.” But the article’s underlying flaw is that initially nowhere did it state that at that point, in 2001, the family failed to move back into the property, which is the crux of the legal argument against them.

The  magistrate court (34656-11-10) (in a decision upheld by the district court (28083-12-14) found that the family had not returned to the apartment in 2001. According to the court from 2001-2010 (when the property was transferred to the trust) the family did not live in the apartment. From 2010 until 2014, they had only “pretended” to live in the apartment. This decision was based on the following evidence:

– Despite the claims of the family that they lived in the apartment, electricity and water bills for the property during this period showed virtually no usage and went largely unpaid. Ahmed Sub-Laban’s parents gave contradictory explanations for the lack of water use (ranging from refraining from washing the floors, to claims that the water was connected to a neighbor’s infrastructure.) – A (Jewish) neighbor living in the apartment opposite testified that no one had lived in the Sub-Laban’s apartment during the years in question. – The store (part of the property) was for many years unlocked, and its door was broken. – A phone was only installed in 2010. – The Sub-Labans didn’t call any witnesses to testify that they were living in the apartment despite the fact that many neighbors and family members could have theoretically been called.


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CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, is the foremost media-monitoring, research and membership organization promoting accurate, balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East. CAMERA holds the media accountable with proven effect, and is responsible for thousands of published corrections and countless other improvements. Its analyses can be read online at, on Facebook at CAMERAorg, and on Twitter at @CAMERAorg.