In Jerusalem as in the rest of the country, land is the core of the locus of the struggle for control. The primary aim of Zionism pre-statehood and Israel since 1948 has been to acquire and keep as much of the land as possible without its indigenous inhabitants. Here we explore the status and disposition of land in Jerusalem and its environs.

The Story in Numbers


Number of sq km, out of a total area of East Jerusalem (70.7 sq km, as it was unilaterally expanded by Israel in June 1967) that Israel has confiscated; this represents about 37 percent [1]


Number of km sq of Jerusalem land excised by the Separation Wall [2]


Number of Israeli land laws used to confiscate Palestinian land since 1948 [3]


Percentage of public land in Jerusalem registered as state land by Israel, to be managed by the Israel Land Authority (a body that until recently was not allowed to sell any land, only lease it) [4]


Percentage of East Jerusalem area that is used for built-up Jewish settlements [5]


Percentage of private Palestinian land that was lost to Palestinian Jerusalemites and used to build settlements [6]


Number of years the Israeli government has frozen the modern land settlement and registration process in East Jerusalem. The process, which follows the modern Torrens title system, legally confers land ownership through title, not deed, enhancing the owners’ rights to the land. [7]


Annual amount in NIS that the 51-year-old freeze on land registration in East Jerusalem has cost Palestinians per household ($23,000). The freeze has not allowed Palestinians to buy or sell land. [8]


Percentage of the land in East Jerusalem that has not gone through the modern land settlement and registration process, easing Israel’s ability to confiscate Palestinian properties and hand them over to the state. [9]


[1] Rassem Khamaisi, The Complex and Unresolved Status of Land in East Jerusalem.
[2] David Koren, “Arab Neighborhoods beyond the Security Fence in Jerusalem,” Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, January 17, 2019.
[3] Rassem Khamaisi, “Shrinking the Palestinian Space,” internal paper drafted for Jerusalem Story researchers. Dr. Khamaisi is a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Haifa. He is an urban and regional planner and geographer.
[4] Khamaisi, “Shrinking the Palestinian Space.”
[5] Khamaisi, “Shrinking the Palestinian Space.”
[6] Khamaisi, “Shrinking the Palestinian Space.”
[7] Khamaisi, Land Settlement and Registration in East Jerusalem.
[8] Ma’ayan Nasher, “Illegal Building, Bloodshed, Conflict, and Two Billion Shekels per Year: The Price of Non-registration of Land in East Jerusalem” [in Hebrew], Jerusalem Institute for Policy Studies, 2018.
[9] Rassem Khamaisi, interview with the Jerusalem Story Team, November 4, 2022.