Lawyer Khaled Zabarga

In the last century, Jerusalem had been through exceptional events and circumstances that directly affected Islamic endowments and changed its reality. Many laws had regulated Islamic endowment in Jerusalem, each according to regimes that ruled the city - starting with the Ottomans, the British Mandate, the Jordanian rule of the West Bank and Jerusalem, and now the Israeli occupation since 1967.
Legal system means the general sense as “the set of general legal rules regulating a specific matter in a specific country at a specific time.” It also means “the set of procedures and rules on which the state builds its ideas and principles and derive its law from.”
Meanwhile, Islamic endowment is: “withholding an asset from being owned by anyone, and giving alms for the benefit to the poor, even in bulk or in a charitable way.” In case of real estate, it implies a property that have been legally endowed and prohibiting its sale or disposing of it in any sense”
Hereby, legal system of Islamic endowment in Jerusalem may be defined as: “a set of procedures and legal rules that regulate the provisions, affairs, and transactions of the Islamic endowment in Jerusalem.”
The issue of the legal system of Islamic endowment in Jerusalem is an in-depth legal issue, provided the special importance enjoyed by the Islamic endowment real estate in the city, considering its religious and historical status on one hand, and its large size and spread throughout the city on the other hand. It is estimated in the Old City before the Zionist expansion to be 67%, while it amounted, in the whole city, to 80%.
Moreover, the issue of the legal system of the Islamic endowment has a great practical importance. It triggers many practical questions worthy of research, which affects the interests and rights related endowments and charities in general, as successive events that the city has been through in the last century resulted in the fragmentation of laws regulating the Islamic endowment because of political instability and the administrative system governing it, making its study a difficult task for researchers.
The Israeli occupation had further restricted the work of the Sharia courts and the Jordanian Islamic Endowment Department, regarding endowments and its administration. It also limited the jurisdiction to consider endowment issues between the Israeli and Jordanian Sharia courts on the one hand and expanding the intervention of regular courts in endowment matters.
It is undeniable that this legal institution has been a bulwark against the occupation. It stopped the occupation from tampering with, buying or disposing of endowment lands and real estate, as the ownership of these properties is prohibited from being transferred and its benefit is channeled into public charitable causes. Therefore, the Israeli occupation found itself facing an obstacle preventing it from achieving its goal in the Judaization of Jerusalem and absolute control over its lands.
Consequently, the occupation began to legislate racist laws allowing it to confiscate and expropriate the real estate of Jerusalemites in general, including endowment real estate, to achieve its Judaizing goals. It employed its institutions and means in serving its main goal of controlling lands in the Holy City of Jerusalem. The occupation enacted many laws, including the Absentee Property Law, the planning and building laws, the expropriation laws, and the National Parks and Natural Reserves Law, according to which thousands of acres, endowment properties, and cemeteries were confiscated.
Many Jordanian laws apply to the Islamic endowments in Jerusalem, which are applied by the Jordanian Sharia courts, which are still operating in East Jerusalem, in continuation of the historical role of Jordan in the city (1st section). On the other hand, the Israeli occupation enacted many laws that are forcibly applied to these endowments as well. (The second section) endowments as well. (2nd section).