The weekly Fasl al-Maqal, owned by Arab-Israeli parliament deputy Azmi Beshara and based in the predominantly Arab city of Nazareth in north Israel, ran a list of 54 leading Palestinians who sold land to Jews from 1918-1945. The paper reported Thursday that Palestinian nationalist leaders, including the grandfather of the PLO’s current top official in Jerusalem, sold land to Jews in the years before Israel’s founding.
The paper ran a story titled “Our Fathers On The Take,” takes the issue back to the era of the British mandate before Israel’s founding in 1948, when the Zionist movement was seeking land in Palestine to create a Jewish state.
The paper reports that some of those highest up in the Palestinian nationalist movement which opposed the Jewish state were at the same time selling land to the Jewish Agency, the body spearheading the Zionist drive,
The weekly’s editor-in-chief, Awad Abdel Fatah reports that the names came from an official document dating back to the British mandate in Palestine, which the paper received from official sources in Jordan. He said, “We published only a partial list from the document, showing the role of the Palestinian leadership in the flow of lands to the Jewish Agency before the disaster of 1948,” he said.
The names are embarrassing to the PA as one is a relative of Yasir Arafat and he is one of the most prominent names on the list. His name is Mohammed Taher al-Husseini, father of al-Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem and supreme head of the Palestinian nationalist movement. Another was Kazem al-Husseini, grandfather on the mother’s side of Faisal Husseini, the top PLO official in Jerusalem. Kazem sold lands in Jerusalem, where he was mayor from 1918-1920. The list includes five other members of the Husseini family, one of the most prominent clans in pre-1948 Palestine and today.
Other members of leading Palestinian families also showed up on the list, as did members of the High Arab Committee, the High Islamic Council and the Arab Executive Committee, the main bodies which led the nascent Palestinian nationalist movement against Zionism. Mussa al-Alami, who headed the Palestinian delegation to the London Conference of 1939 convened to discuss the future of mandate Palestine, sold 90 hectares (222 acres) to Jews in Bisan, now the north Israeli city of Beit Shean, according to the list. Ragheb al-Nashashibi, mayor of Jerusalem from 1920-1934 and head of the National Defense Party, sold over 120 hectares (296 acres) of land in Jaffa, outside Tel Aviv. Nashashibi also sold land in east Jerusalem upon which Hebrew University was later built.
Yaakub al-Ghussein, who headed the Arab Fund created to gather money to support the Palestinian cause, sold land to Jews in Jaffa and what is now the Gaza Strip for 4,000 Palestinian pounds, equivalent to British pound sterling at that era. And the other elite Muslim and Christian families of Palestine, including the Abdel Hadi, Bseiso, and Fahum clans, were represented on the list.