Ras Al Amoud Neighborhood: A hot spot in occupied East Jerusalem

Ras Al Amoud Neighborhood: A hot spot in occupied East Jerusalem




The attempts to colonize more and more lands in East Jerusalem by the ultra-orthodox Jewish religious groups are never halted or stopped. The general case is that religious Jewish groups could seize a house in a Palestinian neighborhood. This time those groups succeeded for the first time to intrude a new colonial construction called Ma'ale Hazeitim at the heart of a Palestinian locality that is Ras Al Amoud neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Land ownership

Ras El-Amoud neighborhood is located in East Jerusalem's basin number 7 and parcel number 119 according to the Jordanian classification and basin number 29989 and parcel number 96 according to the Israeli classification. The area of the lot that was reserved for the colonization activity is 14.5 dunums. As for the population, there are about 11,922 Palestinians living in this suburb. Up until September 17th, 1997, no Jewish population was present in the suburbSee Map of Location

The late Hussein El Ghoul family has been using the land since 1837. The family didn't comply with the Ottoman rule regarding land registration that was issued in 1859. Taking advantage of this fact and the fact that the British Mandate authorities were sympathetic with the Jews, two Zionist movements (Chabad and Fahlin) registered the same piece of land in their names in 1928. This registration took place without informing El Ghoul family who continued living in and benefiting from the land. During the Jordanian rein over the West Bank, and according to the sole registration of the site for Chabad and Fahlin movements, this land was registered at the department of 'Custodian of Enemy Properties' (CEP). Based on that fact, and due to the Jordanian relevant authority's refusal to register the land for the family, the representative of El Ghouls sued the CEP and the case was held up in the courts until 1962. In that year both the appeal and the distinction courts recognized the ownership of El-Ghoul family of the land and registered it officially in the name of the family.

Distribution and registration of the land after the 1962 court ruling:

The land was divided into 16 parts distributed and registered as follows:

  • Six parts for Our Father Ibrahim Monastery ( Albendekatin Monestary for Mr. Jad Khaleel Michael),
  • One part sold to Mr. Daoud Al Bitar and his wife,
  • One part sold to Mr. Musa Zacky Al Ayoubi,
  • One part that had a house built on for Mr. Khaleel Al Silwani hadia. The piece of land stayed registered to the original owner Mr. Ahmad Hussein El-Ghoul, and
  • Seven parts remained registered to Mr. Ahmad Hussein El-Ghoul.

The issue of taking hold of the piece of land:

After the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Chabad and Fahlin societies sued the owners and users of the land. The societies relied on the registration decree issued in 1928 during the British Mandate. They have ignored the decision of the Jordanian Appeal and Distinction Courts. The Israeli Central Court issued a decree canceling the Jordanian registration and considered the land as a disputed one. That was the first stage in the taking hold process. During the 1990's the Jewish-American millionaire Dr.Irwin Moskowitch purchased the land that has an area of 14.5 dunums (14500 square meters) from the above-mentioned religious societies. In the year 1998, the construction work of new Jewish settlement named Ma'ale Hazeitim which means olive Heights in Hebrew started in Ras Al Amoud. The settlement is composed of 133 housing units 40 of which are purchased.

When the Palestinian residents of the suburb submitted a master plan of Ras Al-Amoud and Silwan to Jerusalem Municipality, the Municipality deterred adopting this master plan for long years claiming that this suburb has a land belonging to the Jewish people. The condition imposed by the Municipality to adopt this master plan is the acceptance of the suburb people to establish a Jewish colonial complex on the land. This policy led to a number of house demolition and prevented new building in the neighborhoods. In 1997, the Palestinian inhabitants of the neighborhood were surprised by the declaration of the colonization plan number 4689 on the contested land located at the center of Ras Al-Amoud. Although this land is part of the general master plan for the entire neighborhood, the Municipality approved the plan only for the settlement part and left the rest of the master plan without approval. When the approval finally was issued, the inhabitants discovered that it didn't allow Arabs to build on more than 55-65% of the land area and with a maximum of two floors. On the other hand, the Municipality allowed for the Jews to build on 115% of of the land area with a maximum of seven floors.

At the beginning of November 1998 the Jewish settlers started excavating the land using large caterpillars to prepare it for construction. The Israeli Authorities claimed that this excavation is implemented for purposes of antiquity search. In reaction, another wave of Palestinian protests erupted and led to Israeli violence that reached its peak in hitting members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and arresting a number of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.

Netanyahu Freezed building and Barak allowed it:

Despite being an outspoken supporter of colonization activities, Benjamin Netanyahu was obliged to issue a decision freezing the colonial construction in Ras El-Amoud awaiting the results of the Israeli elections on May 17th,1999. Moreover, although the leaders of the Labor Party strongly condemned the establishment of Jewish settlements, as soon as Mr. Barak bore the responsibilities as Israel's Prime Minister he gave the green light to continue building in this provocative project. On the contrary of his promises to the Americans that he will freeze the project, the building in the project took place in an accelerated rate to create another fact on the ground.

The settlement:

Ras Al-'Amoud settlement is planned to have the following:

  • 133 housing units

  • 1 commercial center

  • 1 Synagogue  

  • 1 kindergarten.

  • 1 clinic

  • New road connection

 See Photos 1, 2 & 3



According to the approved plan of the settlement, a new road passing into the settlement and its parking lot is to be built. Recently, the Israeli Ministry of Housing decided to finance from its own budget the building of this road that was supposed to be financed by Dr. Irving Moskowitch. The settlement today is inhabited by four families and nine singles. The electricity in the settlement is provided by electric generators, while the contractors are trying to establish an electric cable system from the Jerusalem electricity company.

The settlement of Ras Al Amud is basically going to make continuity along with the Jewish cemetery and Bet Orot on the olive mountain then with the Hebrew university buildings reaching to Al-Sheikh Jarah neighborhood. The Idea behind Ras Al-Amud settlement ( Ma'aleh Hazeitim) is to pre-empt any idea of dividing Jerusalem. More specifically, the Israeli government seeks to get rid of the 'corridor plan' that outlined both in the understandings reached by Yossi Beilen and Abu Mazen three years ago. So by scattering the points of Jewish settlements and outposts in Silwan, Ras Al Amud, the mount of olives and Abu Dis, it will be very difficult, if not impossible to realize this corridor plan and to pre-empt any transfer of sovereignty for the Palestinians over Al-Haram Al Sharif ( the Noble sanctuary)  .  Table 1


Palestinian population



Ras Al-Amud


The mount of olives


Abu Dis




Source: Jerusalem statistical yearbook 2001      
* Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics PCBS- projection of 2001


Recently, the Israeli minister of housing announced that 50 Jewish families will enter Ras Al 'Amud settlement and live there during the months of the year 2003. Even though media reported that the USA expressed its fear because of the intention of the Israeli government to bring new Jewish families to Ras Al Amud settlement (Ma'ale Hazeitim)  after a meeting that took place between the General American consul and the Ultra-Orthodox mayor of Jerusalem Uri Lupolianski who belongs to the religous right wing Degel Hatura. ( Al-Quds Newspaper 5/4/2003).


The situation in Ras Al 'Amud neighborhood is going to be more serious when having more Jewish families living in the new colonial site. The Israeli colonizing activities in occupied East Jerusalem aims to abort any possibility to divide the city in the future. Jerusalem is the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and if no just solution is provided means that reaching a peace agreement would be quite impossible. So, if the international community is worried about reaching a solution to the conflict then an intervention should be achieved to stop all acts of injustice and keeping the track for a compromise to be open.   



Prepared by:  
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem

Land Research Center-Jerusalem