The Palestinian dream: West Bankers buy land with the help of online business

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The Canadian-born son of Palestinian refugees is successfully running a business which allows Palestinians to buy land in the area, reported the Guardian on Monday.

Khaled Sabawi launched his company, Tabo (the Ottoman term for “title deed”), three years ago. It is based on his father’s wish to help Palestinians buy Palestinian land, a dream that most of the estimated five million Palestinian refugees would deem impossible.

The Tabo webpage invites potential buyers in Jerusalem , West Bank and from abroad to embark upon a virtual tour of every plot of registered land in the area. Plots are sold for prices ranging from $13,000 to $80,000 and can be paid off over a period of three years.

Ali and Sana Dabbagh, whose parents fled in the 1948 war, purchased a piece of land with the click of a mouse.

“It felt unreal. We’ve bought land elsewhere before but there’s an emotional factor when it comes to Palestine – it was hard for me to accept that I owned land there,” Ali said. “It had also been pretty much impossible to buy land in Palestine and guarantee that you owned it until we met Khaled.”

Simmering conflict

The simmering conflict, that Obama flew into on an official visit to Israel and Palestine on Tuesday, is based upon a Palestinian-Israeli battle for land , a fight for the ownership of 26,000 square kilometers of historic land claimed by both sides as a holy land and a homeland. It is a battle that Israel is winning.

The Israeli government continues to authorize the building of settlements that extend into Palestinian areas.

In 1993 Israeli and Palestinian leaders signed the Oslo agreement that agreed to divide the land between the two peoples, yet since 1996 more than 100 new Israeli outposts have been built in the Palestinian state. The Palestinians have built one.

Many Israeli Jews believe they have a religiously ascertained right to settle anywhere in the biblical land.

Critical of the Palestinian Authority

Sabawi is highly critical of the Palestinian Authority saying that Israel’s success in the battle for territory is being aided by the Authority’s failure to protect the land.

Legal proof of ownership is difficult to come by in the West Bank , 70% of land is unregistered in fact.

The process of registering land is arduous, it took Tabo’s team of lawyers and engineers four years to register 100 hectares of land. The negotiations took place with multiple heirs claiming to own one piece of land, the process then involved agreeing on the borders of the plot, getting a map approved by the council and then, finally, applying for a title deed to legalize ownership.