The Status of Former Jewish Assets in Judea and Samaria - English

February 2019 by Russell A. Shalev

This paper explores the status of the former Jewish properties in Judea and Samaria that were seized by Jordan in 1948. Contrary to the Supreme Court's ruling in the Valero case (2011), this paper concludes that Israel legally can, and should, return the property to its former owners, based on the following justifications:

• Recognizing confiscated Jewish assets as Jordanian state property would be a violation of the principle of ex injuria jus non oritur, unjust acts cannot create law. The Jordanian seizure was illegal, was the result of Jordanian aggression and unrecognized annexation of the territory, and thus should be seen as invalid.
• Jewish properties in Judea and Samaria are sui generis, ie. a unique historical and legal phenomenon, and they are much straightforward legally than Arab properties in Israel.
• Conditioning their return on parallel Arab claims would erase the distinction between aggressor and victim.
• Israel’s experience in Jerusalem shows that such parallelism is unnecessary and that the return of Jewish properties will not open the gates to a flood of Arab claims.
• Israel has a unique historical obligation to restore the seized Jewish properties.

To conclude, the Jordanian state bears responsibility for the damages resulting from its aggressive actions. While Israel cannot press Jordan to make full restitution for the damages it incurred, it can, and should, restitute property owners in Judea and Samaria who had their assets seized.