Palestinian says he owns land under Barak's home
ABC News, 16th Aug 2000

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Palestinian villager from the West Bank said on Wednesday he was the legitimate owner of the land on which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak"s house stands. Mustapha Dauod told Israel"s Army Radio he lost 60 acres in what is now the Israeli town of Cochav Yair when he was expelled from it before the establishment of Israel in 1948. 

"The Jews told (people working there) that Barak, the commander of the army, flies in on a plane, lands and then goes to his house. His house is on my land," said Dauod, 84, now a resident of the West Bank village of Jammal, three miles east of Cochav Yair. 

More than 700,000 Palestinians were evicted from their homes in parts of British-mandate Palestine in 1948 to make way for the creation of the state of Israel. They became refugees in neighboring Arab states, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The radio said Dauod had documents to prove ownership of the land on which Barak's house and others in Cochav Yair stand. Dauod said Israel had officially confiscated the land in the 1980s. Legal efforts to regain it had failed. The prime minister"s office had no response to Dauod"s claims. Palestinian rights advocacy group Peace Now said claims such as Dauod's were common and relatively easy to substantiate. 

"If you walk around Tel Aviv, many of the places you"ll tread have the same story. You"ll find their owners in the West Bank," Peace Now spokesman Didi Remez said. "It"s no problem to identify the owners of such places. Just tour some refugee camps." 

Israel and the Palestinians are working against a September deadline to seal a peace deal settling their 52-year conflict and the issues at its heart -- Palestinian refugees, borders, Jewish settlements on occupied territory and Jerusalem. A right of return and compensation for displaced Palestinians are at the top of the agenda.

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