The Nassar family owns two plots of land totaling about 100 acres located southwest of Bethlehem. Their ownership is based on registration documents in the family’s possession from the time of the British Mandate period. Additional documents show proof of the family’s cultivation and use of the land since the date of purchase.
Tent of Nations/Nassar Family Farm: Timeline for Re-Registration
1991 The Israeli Civil Administration Authority declared the whole farm to be State Land with the exception of the family home and surrounding small gardens. The Nassars objected on grounds that their family had owned, lived on, and actively farmed the land for many years. They filed an appeal of the Civil Administration decision to the Israeli Military Court.
2002 After an eleven-year legal battle, the Appeal to the Military Court was rejected. The Nassar Family immediately filed an appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court in 2002.
2006 The Supreme Court returned the case to the Military Authorities, stipulating that the family could not be stopped from starting the re-registration process for their land (two plots) so that it could be recognized by Israel as privately owned property in Area C of the West Bank. (Area C lands in the West Bank are under full Israeli military and civil control.) Also in 2006, the Nassars received new demolition orders on farm structures and the family filed appeals against the demolition orders.
2007 The Supreme Court responded that the Nassar family could pursue the re-registration process, providing the possibility that the contested land could then be deemed private land after the re-registration was completed.
2008 The Nassars submitted their first of two re-registration packets. Between 2008 and 2012, the family submitted several applications for building permits, but each application was denied by the Israeli Military Authority.
2010 The Military Authority issued demolition orders to remove tents, animal sheds and other temporary structures which they claimed the family had no permission to build. The Nassars went to court to stop the demolition orders, and to apply for building permits.
2011 A Military Court decision was made, without the family’s lawyer present, rejecting the building permit applications that the family had applied for in 2010, claiming that the structures are close to a new road planned to be built nearby. The Nassar’s lawyer intervened.
2012 In February, papers with maps signed by the Civil Administration of the Israeli Military Authority were discovered on the land claiming that the land identified in the maps were State Land. They gave the family 45 days to appeal their claim to the land or the land would become State Land. The family lawyer filed an appeal immediately.
- In May, demolition orders were discovered on a portion of the farm in the valley in the same manner as the earlier notices. This time the authorities identified a cistern which had been in use for years that was scheduled to be demolished within three days. The order was contested and the demolition order was frozen.
- In December, the Nassar family received notice that their applications for building permits for the structures were rejected by the Military Authority. The Nassars were given 45 days to demolish the structures themselves or reapply for new building permits, which add costs per for new land surveys and fees for each application. Under the ‘New Rules’ the family also needed to submit a future zoning plan, including all structures, and sign an agreement that, if the permits are denied, they would pay for the costs of demolishing the structures.
2013 The Israeli Military authority claimed that in 2007 the family had not submitted all the required documents, although the family had proof of submitting them. In January 2013 the family was required to apply to start anew the registration process for recognizing their ownership of the land.
- The family had to reapply for all previous permits (13) including the more recent structures, such as a large tent, a cistern near the home, a cistern in the valley and the office trailer. They did this with the understanding that if those structures were to be denied a permit, the Nassars must demolish them at their own expense.
- They had to submit additional land survey maps – one topographical map which shows the farm location in the region and two technical maps, one at 1/250 scale and the other 1/50,000 scale, which show the new structures and their locations and dimensions.
- They had to submit plans for sources of providing electricity and water to the land from the village and for provisions for gray water and filtration systems.
- They had to apply for approval/signature of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, certifying that the land is agricultural land.
2014 In January, three “stop cultivation” orders were found on a rock on the land. The Nassars had their lawyer prepare and file an Appeal to the orders.
- In May, the Israeli Military bulldozed hundreds of fruit-bearing trees growing in the lower valley of the farm and destroyed the terraced land that had been cleared for planting. A shepherd saw the destruction and notified the family. There was no forewarning given, and this was an illegal act on the part of the Israeli Military as there was an active Appeal in process.
2015 The Nassars submitted a third re-registration packet because the authorities claimed they could not find the original application that the family had submitted in 2013; the family had proof of submission from 2013, but resubmitted all required materials.
- April 19, 2015 – The family filed two re-registration applications for the two plots of land, the first carrying the application number 2/3714 and the second 2/3715. These applications provided the authorities with all needed documents and land surveys. The family received a copy of their land survey from the first application, signed and stamped by the Israeli Military Authority with the given number 55/2015. They also received a copy of the second land survey, signed and stamped with the given number 57/2015. Both land surveys for the two plots of land have on them the initials MM in Hebrew, indicating that primary approval of the applications was being recognized. This was not the end of the process, but a good sign that the re-registration process was moving forward.
- Two more demolition orders on previously identified agricultural structures were found loose on the land.
2016 In October, the military authorities rejected the Appeal about the demolition of the two agricultural structures and the building permits for the zoning plan, claiming that they could not grant permits until the farm was officially re-registered in the name of the Nassar family according to a modern GPS system. Essentially, the government argument is that because one branch of the Military Authority cannot complete the review of the re-registration application in a timely manner (Office of Land Registration), another branch of the Authority cannot issue building permits.
- On November 1, the family attorney appealed again to the Supreme Court to get another injunction to save these two agricultural buildings.
- On November 7, the Supreme Court accepted this appeal which means that the military authorities cannot destroy either structure until the court case ends. In the injunction they received, the Supreme Court gave the Military Authority time until the 6th of January 2017 to give a response to the petition on why the building permit applications have been consistently denied by the State. The January date was postponed until March, then postponed again until June and then again until the 19th of September, 2017, at which time the Supreme Court charged the military committee to come to Court to explain why the family has been denied a building permit.
2017 The World Methodist Peace Award was given to Tent of Nations and the Nassar family for its work towards non-violence as a way of life and “Refusing to be Enemies.”
2018 Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, announced the winners of the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Tent of Nations was one of the winners.
- Also in 2018, The Nassar Family submitted another zoning plan, including all the agricultural structures that exist on the farm.
2019 During this year, four years after the appeal was filed by the Nassars in 2015, the Military Registration Committee informed the family that all documents had been received and that re-registration of the land could begin to take place. This came after 30 years of struggle in both the Military and the Supreme Courts and past rejections of the application.
2020 July 21 and 28 – As the second step of the re-registration process, the committee from the Israeli Civil Administration in Gush Etzion’s office went to the Nassar’s land and walked and checked the boundaries of both plots of land. They also documented that the land existing in those two areas had clear boundaries based on the signatures of the neighbors bordering the Nassar’s land. The committee wrote a report and sent it the Beit El office.
2021 January – The family was informed through their attorney, Mr. Sani Khoury, that the committee authorized to continue the process through the Civil Administration in Beit El would meet on February 1, 2021, to look into the details of the Nassar’s applications. The Committee will then schedule a hearing where the family’s attorney will be present as well as any other person or organization (from the Israeli and/or from the Palestinian side) who have objections against the re-registration process. Of course, any party that is objecting to this process must present its documents and proof.
- Between February and August 2021 nothing further was heard from the Civil Administration although the lawyer inquired several times.
- July 2021, Friends of Tent of Nations from around the world sent out a request asking people to sign a petition to be sent to the US Secretary of State and the US Embassy regarding the continuous delays.
- September 2021, the petition along with a letter was conveyed to Hady Amr in the State Department and through him to Michael Ratney in the Embassy.
- September 7th, Daoud’s lawyer prepared documents to resubmit to the Supreme Court asking them to take action. The Nassars’ lawyer informed the Military Authority that within three days he would appeal to the Supreme Court. Within those three days, he was informed that on December 13th, the Committee authorized by the Civil Administration to review this case will reconvene. There is no information thus far of the agenda for the December 13 meeting.
Timeline updated November 21, 2021