Israeli Court Issues Lien on Jerusalem Plot Belonging to Yasser Arafat's Estate

Arafat inherited less than 0.5 percent of the plot, but the judge rules it legal to put a temporary freeze on entire plot ■ Order issued at the request of families of terror victims

Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, 2004.
John Goodman

The Jerusalem District Court issued on Tuesday a temporary lien for a plot of land in East Jerusalem belonging to the estate of Yasser Arafat

The court issued the order at the request of victims of terrorism who filed a civil damages lawsuit against the Palestinian Authority and Arafat’s estate.

The plaintiffs claimed that if they win the lawsuit, it will be difficult to collect the compensation from the estate, and as a result they also asked to place the lien on the property so they can collect their damages. The plaintiffs are eight families of terror victims, represented by attorneys Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Moshe Segal.

A lien is a claim against an asset that allows a person to keep the property of a person who owes them money until it has been paid.

The land involved is a 2.7 dunam (0.675 acre) plot, most of which is located inside the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, which Arafat inherited. Arafat's estate owns less than half of a percent of the plot, which has not been divided up among its numerous owners. However, the judge ruled that legally it was possible to put a temporary freeze on the entire plot.

“The defendant is not blessed with many exposed assets,” states the suit. “As opposed to an ordinary defendant, whose assets can be exposed in various registries, official databases or through a routine investigative procedure, the assets of the defendant are not registered in open databases accessible to the plaintiffs. They are registered, if at all, in the registries of the Palestinian Authority that the plaintiffs have no access to, in its territory, and their location is also in areas that it is doubtful that the plaintiffs have the possibility of reaching.”

Darshan-Leitner claimed as a result that not issuing a lien on an asset “known to belong to the defendant, or which he could receive in the future, which is known to be located in Israel and which is known to the plaintiffs, will seriously harm the plaintiffs and will serve to prevent the implementation of their court ruling.”

Yossi Arnon, the lawyer representing the Palestinian Authority in the case, learned about the order from Haaretz and said he intends on taking action to reverse the ruling.

Some 120 lawsuits are underway against the Palestinian Authority in Israeli courts based on claims the Palestinian Authority is responsible for damages stemming from terrorist attacks. Most of the cases are extremely complicated because it has been difficult to prove the PA’s direct responsibility for a specific attack.

“I think this is vindictiveness and has no real legal basis. It’s like saying there was a murder in Jerusalem, so the Israel Police are responsible. That the attacker came from the territory of the PA does not make the PA responsible,” said Arnon.