Background Information on Tent of Nations

Tent of Nations is a peace project located on a farm owned for over 100 years by the Nassar family, located 6 miles southwest of Bethlehem in the occupied Palestinian territories. Situated in Area C under Israeli administrative and security control, the farm is located on a hilltop surrounded by Israeli settlements.

[1] In 2001, the Nassar family named their farm Tent of Nations, receiving visitors from around the world to foster a connection between the land and people. The farm is dedicated to sustainable agriculture and hosts programs for women and children from the area. In 2019, the number of international visitors was close to 10,000. Tent of Nations is supported by church and religious organizations in the U.S.A. and Europe, who host visits to the farm, help support Tent of Nations’ educational and peacebuilding programs, and sponsor volunteers who live and work on the farm. Since 2001, Tent of Nations has been a place where “people from many different countries come together to learn, to share, and to build bridges of understanding and hope.”

In 1991, the Israeli authorities declared the farm and surrounding areas “state land.” Since then, the Nassar family has been in the Israeli Military Court and, ultimately, the Israeli Supreme Court defending their land from the demolition of farm buildings, water cisterns, and tents and from outright confiscation. In 2006, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Nassars could begin the re-registration process of their property required by Israel of landowners in Area C.

[2] Since then the process has been subject to repeated delays on the part of Israel, requiring that the Nassars re-initiate the process multiple times. Finally, in 2019 the Nassars received confirmation that their application was complete. [3] After two more years of additional delays, a meeting was held in February 2021 by the Israeli Registration Committee, the purpose of which was to determine and inform the family about next steps in the re-registration process. Despite repeated inquiries, the Nassars continued to await notification of the results of that meeting. Between February and August 2021 nothing further was heard from the Civil Administration although the lawyer inquired several times.

Due to the delay in the re-registration process, the Nassar family’s lawyer prepared documents to resubmit to the Supreme Court asking them to take further action. Within three days, he was informed that the Committee authorized by the Civil Administration to review this case will reconvene on December 13th, As in many situations in the past, the hearing was postponed and rescheduled for January 16, 2022.

The hearing on January 16th was held. However, the Absentee Property Custodian representing the State did not appear, and the head of the committee gave the State an additional 45 days to produce documents supporting their case. Significantly, the Nassars’ lawyer was allowed to enter into the minutes of the meeting an argument/ statement that the State not be allowed to base their case on the 1991 Declaration of the property as State Land: that the 2006 Israeli Supreme Court decision invalidates this argument. The hearing then re-scheduled for May 2nd was postponed and a subsequent date of October 27, 2022 was set, and again postponed to November 21, 2022.

November’s hearing was held, but the committee refused to make a decision claiming it was only “fair” that Palestinian objectors be heard: neglecting the fact that all of them had been given time to submit their evidence during the past year and never complied. In the subsequent hearing held on January 16, 2023, the Committee contravened their previous decisions, returning the Palestinian family which had claimed ownership to a portion of the Nassars’ land, and the Absentee Property Custodian to the re-registration process in a hearing scheduled for February 12, 2023.

The continuous delays in the land re-registration process expose the Nassar farm to severe risk. On May 21, 2021, unknown persons set the land on fire destroying over 1000 trees, including hundreds of olive trees. On June 9, 2021, allegedly to reach the neighboring property, Israeli military vehicles and bulldozer entered the Nassar’s private property, creating a path of destruction and cutting down approximately 50 olive trees. On January 20, 2022, vandals destroyed 50 mature olive trees. On January 28,2022, Daoud and his brother Daher were attacked on the property by masked vandals.

The pace of settlement expansion with construction of roads built for exclusive use by Israeli settlers has intensified, while Palestinian movement is being impeded by roadblocks and checkpoints. These changes increase the farm’s isolation and sense of imminent threat for the physical safety of the Nassar family, their visitors, and volunteers. Completion of the land re-registration would constitute Israeli authorities’ recognition of the Nassars as the private owners of this land and end their legal struggle.

[1] The Nassar family owns plots of land located in Wadi Salem (Alkaff) Alkafr in Nahalin, Bethlehem district. The land was registered in 1924 and 1925 in the land registry office of Bethlehem, volume No. 1, pages 3 & 4and also registered in 1958 in the financial deeds under Plot No. 17, 161, and 157 of block No. 4, altogether 427 Dunams.
[2] Case Number: HCJ 7215/02
[3] Re-registration Case Nos. 3714/2 and 3715/2

Updated: February 1, 2023