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Colonial Cases

Palestine Government v. Khoury, 1932

[land law]

Palestine Government v. Khoury and others

Land Court, Haifa
Setoin and Daoudi JJ, 1932
Source: The Palestine Bulletin, 30 November 1932




Haifa, Tuesday. - An action instituted by the Palestine Government against the families of Khoury, Sursock and Tweini, was begun yesterday in the Land Court of Haifa (Judges Setoin and Daoudi) in regard to two plots of land of 2,220 dunams at Kfar Kieikamoiun, near Kfar Joshua, in the Valley Of Jezreel.

   The village was bought from the Turkish Government by the defendants about 50 years ago, but was occupied by Turkish troops as an encampment and right of possession was reassumed by the Government, which registered the land in its name.

   A few years before the British Occupation, the the lessor, one Mustapha Pasha al Khalil, claimed indemnity from the Turkish Government for use of the land taken from its owners.  The Turkish Court of First Instance at Haifa dismissed the suit on the ground that it was Government land.  The man appealed to the higher Court at Beirut, which reversed the lower court's judgment and adjudicated possession to these families ordering compensation to be paid.  The Government appealed to the high Court at Constantinople, but in the meantime British troops occupied the country.  In December, 1918, (three months after the occupation of Haifa) the Khoury family demanded possession of the land thought he Execution Office at Haifa, which was granted.  In 1922, at their request, the Tabu registered the land in their name.

What Happened Later

   In the meantime, the second appeal was brought before the French Cour de Cassation in Beirut (1925), which declared itself incompetent to deal with land outside the Mandated Territory of Syria. 

   It was then that the Palestine department of Lands stepped in and brought the case against the defendants.

   Mr. M. M. Soukhan, O.B.E., appeared for the Government, Messrs. Jacob Levy, Fuad Atallah and Mahmoud el Maadi for the defendants, and Mr. Ben-Shemesh for  Joshua Hankin (with whom a deed of sale had been made.) Mr. Fuad appeared as liquidator for the Khoury family, which were declared in bankruptcy.

   The defence brought two points: Firstly, that the District land at Haifa was of a lower competence than that at Beirut, to which the action had been brought, and as such could not deal with it; and secondly, that the lands claimed were not specified in the deeds.

   The Court adjourned the case to December 21st. to examine the documents to ascertain whether in fact these lands are those covered in the dispute.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School