Subject: Template of letter to Secretary of State Blinken — can be sent to elected officials in constituent’s email for them to use in writing Secretary Blinken

Dear Secretary Blinken:

I am writing to request your intervention with the appropriate Israeli authorities, asking them to finalize the re-registration of the Nassar family-owned farm outside Bethlehem in Area C of the West Bank. The property was declared State Land by the Israelis in 1991.  The private ownership of this 100 acre farm is documented from as early as 1920.

While this farm is one Palestinian property among many under threat, it embodies a vision of positive hope in the midst of unbelievable challenge by demonstrating sustainable agricultural practices, providing programs for Palestinian women and children, and hosting Christian pilgrimage groups and volunteers. The TON is a positive space for sharing and learning that needs to be protected and uplifted as the kind of place which encourages peace.

After several years in the military courts of the Civil Administration, the family filed their case in the Supreme Court, and in 2007 Israel’s Supreme Court instructed the Civil Administration to allow the family to proceed with re-registration. Finally in 2019, after numerous delays, the Israeli military authorities informed the family that the re-registration process would proceed. After further delay, a hearing was finally scheduled for December 13, 2021.

There have been six hearings scheduled since that time, three of which were actually held. Since the start of this process, the Absentee Property Custodian (representing the State of Israel) and any of the Nassars’ neighbors were allowed to “object” to their ownership by submitting a claim, substantiated with evidence, to the re-registration committee. The Absentee Property Custodian was never present at a hearing until the most recent hearing on January 16, 2023, and has never presented evidence that the Nassars are not the owners of the land.

Two Palestinian neighbors submitted objections. One objection was settled privately and the second neighbor, who claimed ownership of a portion of the Nassar’s land, was dismissed by the committee for lack of evidence and failure to appear.

Despite Palestinian objectors withdrawing or being dismissed, and the fact that the representative of the State had never appeared or filed evidence of the State’s claim beyond the 1991 Declaration of State land; the Committee decided at its recent hearing on January 16, 2023 to return to the re-registration process both the Absentee Property Custodian and the Palestinian family claiming ownership of part of the land. A date of February 12, 2023 is set for this hearing.

The 30 year struggle in the Israeli courts, and the last two years of continuous delay by the Civil Administration’s Re-registration Committee are clear evidence that Israel intends to take this land for the expansion of the surrounding settlements.  These actions undermine the rule of law, and are one example of how the annexation process is counterproductive to the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I am urging you to take the necessary  action with Israeli officials to bring a halt to the continuous delays in the decision making process and allow the family to re-register their land, bringing this case to a fair and just conclusion.
With respect and gratitude,

Signature of Senator or Representative