The term "present absentees" (i.e. people who are present in the country but nevertheless are called 'absentees') refers to ARAB residents of 1948 Palestine who were present in the country but not residing at their homes during the 1948 War of Independence. Such people today are citizens of Israel but their "abandoned" property was taken from them and they cannot get it back. Mostly they left their homes temporarily because of the war-situation, but this was a tragic "mistake" on their part. This law applies only to Arabs but not to Jewish Israelis. (Israeli basic laws do not impose legal equality between the groups.) Once Jerusalem was annexed, the prevailing law became the Israeli law rather than the Jordanian law. Jordanian law must have recognized the ownership of the local residents residing in abandoned Jewish homes even if it was not written in the books. (such a "chazaka" is recognized in Talmudic law). In any case, there is a vast number of "present absentees" in Israel proper. Why cry over a few Arab families in Sheikh Jarrach?
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from the article: Carter: Sheikh Jarrah evictions are against international law