This article in The Jerusalem Post provides clear evidence that pre-1948, Jews, often from Iran and Iraq, owned land in what the media like to call 'Arab East Jerusalem'. Some of that land has now been abandoned to Bedouin squatters.
"Standing on the runway of the abandoned Atarot airport in northern Jerusalem, Aryeh King - an activist with the NGO Public Office of East Jerusalem (POEJ) - points out hundreds of illegal buildings erected by Arabs on Jewish-owned land. Over the past five months, Beduin have set up tents at the end of the runway, he notes.
"The desolate airport is a metaphor for what is happening across the eastern side of the city, says King. Whether by gross negligence or the efforts of shady land dealers and straw men, more than 3,000 dunams of land in east Jerusalem owned by Jewish individuals, the State of Israel or the Jewish National Fund (JNF) have been squatted on by Arab homesteaders, he says.
"In 1995 gunshots fired at airplanes taxiing on the runway from nearby buildings forced the closure of Jerusalem's only airport, he continues. Since then the Arab multi-family buildings, some as high as eight stories, have continued to encroach on the British Mandate era airfield.
"The construction of the security fence has only exacerbated the land grab, King says, since some of the Jewish-owned lands are "orphaned" on the eastern side of the barrier. De facto, he says, those dunams have been lost to the Jewish people.
"The nearby Kalandiya refugee camp was built on land acquired by the JNF and Baghdadi Jews before 1948, King explains. Housing Ministry officials estimate the Jewish-owned land in Kalandiya is worth $35 million.
"Land title is often complicated in Jerusalem, King explains. Some parcels of raw land in Abu Dis and other locations were purchased by Jews living in Iran before 1948. The real estate was never developed. The owners and the heirs ended up living in Beverly Hills, and neglected their purchases."