August 1, 2017
The Ugly Impact of Unregistered Land
The threat posed to the Palestinian people by the fact that 70% of West Bank land is unregistered is clear. Ottoman-era law is being cynically manipulated by the Israeli occupying power to illegally appropriate vast swathes of unregistered West Bank territory.
This represents merely another ugly chapter in the long and painful history of Palestinian displacement, with Israeli settlement construction and expansion being the one of largest and most enduring issues. Roughly 21% of land in the West Bank has been illegally appropriated by the government of Israel. Moreover, for Palestinians who remain in the West Bank, they are becoming squeezed ever more tightly into truncated urban centers, pushing up land prices and placing increased pressures on services and overall quality of life.
The Need for Innovative Approaches
The United Nations has proven grossly inadequate in their application of international law in the case of unlawful expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel and the creation and expansion of illegal settlements. This is not to say that the UN and international law cannot be potent tools in the protection of Palestinian land, but history has shown that we cannot rely solely on the international community to ensure Palestinian fundamental rights.
Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority has done virtually nothing to encourage Palestinians to protect their lands and has not launched a tangible strategy or plan to prevent or at least hamper Israel’s settlement expansion progress. It is clear that Palestinians must engage in our own efforts to protect our future and those of future generations. The problem is too big and too important to ignore, and what is needed are clear, Palestinian-led strategies which operate in parallel with the wider legal and political efforts to protect Palestinian land.
Putting Palestinian Land in Palestinian Hands
This is what TABO – a sustainable, local Palestinian initiative started by Palestinian entrepreneurs – seeks to do. With a passionate and highly experienced team led by Dr. Mohamed Al Sabawi and Mr. Khaled Al Sabawi, TABO takes on the burden of legally purchasing unregistered Palestinian land and then undergoes the difficult and bureaucratic process of converting it into registered land. Once registered with an official title, UCI then divides the land into affordable quarter-acre plots, each with their own title deeds. As such, TABO takes matters into Palestinian hands and forgoes the international systems and processes which have consistently failed Palestinians. Instead, TABO places Palestinian territory under legally-protected Palestinian ownership.
TABO takes on the many bureaucratic challenges of land registration – an essential component of Palestinian self-determination – so that you don’t have to, and makes parcels available to all Palestinians at an affordable rate. As a result, West Bank land ownership is being made a reality for resident Palestinians as well as those in the diaspora. Up to date, TABO has registered and therefore protected roughly 1 million square meters of Palestinian land.
This is the vision of TABO: to promote the right of Palestinians to enjoy the benefits of our homeland, and to deter unlawful interference of Palestine’s territorial integrity by Israel’s colonization project. Above all, TABO strives to put Palestinian land back in Palestinian hands.