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, international visitors numbered 10,000. Tent of Nations is supported by church and religious organizations in the U.S.A. and Europe, which 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 Nassar 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 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Nassars should be allowed to go through the re-registration process of their property as required by Israel of landowners in Area C. [2] Since then the family have been subjected to continued delays that required that they re-initiate their application for re-registration multiple times. Finally, in 2019, they received confirmation that their application to re-register was complete. [3]

After two more years of additional delays, a meeting was held in February 2021 by the Re- Registration Committee of the Civil Administration, the purpose of which was to determine and inform the family about next steps in the re-registration process. Between February and August 2021, nothing further was heard from the Civil Administration although the lawyer inquired several times. Due to the delays, Nassars’ 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 would reconvene on December 13, 2021. That hearing was postponed and rescheduled for January 16, 2022.

The hearing on January 16, 2022 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 in a hearing scheduled for May 2, which was postponed and rescheduled for October 27 and again postponed until November 21. November’s hearing was held, and the State did not appear. 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 in previous hearings to submit their evidence during the past year and had never complied.

In the subsequent hearing held January 16, 2023, the Committee contravened previous decisions in which they had dismissed a Palestinian objector who was claiming ownership of a portion of the Nassars’ land. They returned him to the re-registration process along with the Absentee Property Custodian for a February 12, 2023 hearing.

Hearings scheduled for February 12 and March 2, 2023 were held. A representative of the Absentee Property Custodian appeared at the February hearing who knew nothing about the case. As of the February 12 hearing, the Absentee Property Custodian has been dismissed from the case. However, the Committee allowed the Palestinian family that had contested the case in January 2023 to appear at the March 2 hearing, even though they had failed, during the past 15 month series of hearings, to deliver documents or produce witnesses to substantiate their claims, and they had been dismissed from the case in November 2022. At the March 2, 2023 hearing, the Nassars’ lawyer moved to dismiss the Palestinian family’s objection based on the Committee’s previous decision to remove them from the case. This request was denied and a hearing has been scheduled for May 15 at which witnesses for both the Nassars and the Palestinian family objecting to the re-registration will testify.

The continuous delays in the land re-registration process have exposed the Nassars to severe risk: including fire which was intentionally set, damage of property by vandals, and a physical attack on members of the family. 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: April 10, 2023