Legal Battle Intensifies: Turkey’s Ottoman Archives Now in the Hand of the Palestinian Authority

A picture of Jerusalem, early 20th century. (Photo: Ottoman Palestinian Picture Archive FB page)

Turkey has transferred to the Palestinian Authority a copy of the Ottoman-era archives, in order to help Palestinians in their legal fight against Israel’s land claims, according to Israeli news sources.

The Ottoman archives, which include tens of thousands of land registries from historic Palestine during the era of Ottoman control over the region, date back to over four centuries, 1516 to 1917.

“Lawyers from the PA are already using the materials in the archive in order to undermine Israel’s claim on land around Israel,” the Israeli website Israel National News reported on January 1.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, Nadav Shragai explained that “among the more prominent cases are those that relate to properties and plots in the Old City, currently being contested by Jews and Arabs.”

“The most notorious of these cases pertains to the Western Wall plaza, adjacent to the Mughrabi Quarter (or Moroccan Quarter), which Israel cleared off and demolished to make way for a prayer area. While this is land that Israel expropriated, with little to no legal prospects of this being reversed, at least in terms of propaganda presenting the land registries, it could be embarrassing to Israel.”

According to Israel National News, lawyers from Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods are regularly turning to the archive to find documents that could help them in legal battles over claims to many properties, mostly in the Jerusalem area.

(The Palestine Chronicle)


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