By Sahar Salkhi
Reports have been circulating about the stay of the new Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in the occupied villa of a Palestinian businessman in al-Quds. Lapid’s wife also posted a photo on social media after moving into the new residence, although it is said to be a temporary stay and will remain so until completion of the renovation of his official residence on Balfour Street.
At the beginning of July, Yair Lapid, then acting Prime Minister of the occupation regime, and his wife, Lihi, moved to an old and beautiful house in al-Quds, called Villa Hana Salameh and abandoned by its owners during the day of the Nakba, a gesture that shows his vision of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis and the violation of Palestinian rights, in particular their right to return to their homeland.
Nakba Day is the name Palestinians gave to the massacre and forced expulsion of their people by Zionist soldiers in 1948, during which they were forced from their homes.
Villa Salameh, located in Balfour Street, Talbieh district, is one of the beautiful villas built in the 1930s in Palestine with an Art Deco style. There is still a sign in three languages at the entrance and in front of the building, which indicates the history of the construction of the building in 1932, and the name of the designer and architect, Zoltan Harmet.
Zoltan Harmet was originally a Hungarian-Jewish architect who traveled to Palestine and started working there a year after graduating from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Budapest.
The owner of this villa, Hana Salameh, was an Arab-Christian merchant who owned the General Motors dealership in Jordan and Palestine before the Nakba and built it in the western part of al-Quds in 1932.
After the Nakba and the occupation and bombardment of Palestinian neighborhoods in the western areas of al-Quds, particularly the neighborhoods of Katamon and Talbieh, Hana Salameh left her villa and became a refugee in Beirut, and the Israeli regime occupation seized the villa by force. under the Absentee Property Act.
The law allows the theft of property from Palestinian refugees and gives the property from the moment of its confiscation to the Israelis, who are called “the custodian of the property of the absentee”.
The Absentee Property Law also allows the Israeli occupation regime to confiscate Palestinian assets – including cash, stocks, furniture, books, businesses, banks and other alienable assets. The main owners of these properties are mostly refugees from other countries, but some of them are internally displaced and are now living on their occupied land.
After the villa was subject to usurpation law, it was occupied and repossessed and was used by the occupation regime and leased to foreign countries.
For a time the villa was used to house Israeli soldiers and marines, and for a time it was the residence of the guards and bodyguards of the American consulate on Agron Street (next to the endowments and the Ma’man Allah cemetery).
After that, the Guatemalan embassy moved there until 1980, when it left after the approval of the “United Jerusalem” law by the occupation regime. Then the villa was sold to an Israeli businessman who added three floors to the villa building to turn it into several apartments for rent.
And later still, for many years, this building was used for the residence of the guards and security services of the official residence of the Prime Minister of the occupation regime Benjamin Netanyahu, which is located on Balfour Street near this villa. .
Israel’s two former prime ministers, David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol, refused to live in Palestinian properties seized under the Absentee Property Law, making Lapid’s decision an oddity in Israeli politics. David Ben-Gurion, the commander of Haganah forces, who has committed crimes of ethnic cleansing in Palestine, including the bombardment of Palestinian homes in western neighborhoods of al-Quds during his tenure as prime minister, has refused to move to live in the very villa of Hana Salameh in her presidency.
Yair Lapid is considered the first Prime Minister of the Israeli occupation regime to take this decision, which reveals the dark truth about his positions regarding the Palestinian right of return and the future of al-Quds, and makes clear that is against this right.
Jihad Abu Raya, a Palestinian researcher and lawyer in Haifa, said: “Lapid’s decision is reminiscent of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. After expelling Palestinians and slaughtering them in their villages and towns, Israel has embarked on seizing their homes, factories, shrines, cemeteries, mosques, etc., and is not acting as a guardian of these goods, but as a thief and looter.
(This article was originally written in Persian and translated into English by Press TV staff. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)