Lifta: The Only Remaining Village of ‘48

Where settlers may enjoy their vacation at a boutique hotel with the view of an ethnically cleansed village

Lifta, a historically wealthy village in the outskirts of Jerusalem, was known for its embroidery and sewing—attracting buyers from across the Levant. The 3,000 person village was ethnically cleansed during the Nakba of 1948 and now remains the only intact historic Palestinian village. While hundreds of houses are left untouched by settlers, previous Palestinian residents are continuously denied their right to return. The timeless architecture represents the flourishing culture of Arab Palestinian village and the Palestinians who have inhabited the village for 2000 years. Protection of the village is critical to larger intergenerational resistance and Palestinians’ right to return.

In May 2021, the Israeli land authority announced that they would take bids from construction companies to develop Lifta to a commercial-residential site. The houses that hosted Palestinian families just 73 years ago are set to be destroyed with a development contract proposed to last 98 years. Such destruction would make way for 259 new buildings that would resemble other illegal settlements that has dought to erase their Palestinian past. Timeless Palestinian architecture would be replaced with sterile white buildings. The Giv’at Ze’ev settlement just 9 miles Lifta showcases what Lifta is set to become—a village erased of its centuries long culture to render an illegal settlement. Israeli authorities have already approved the establishment of a luxury boutique hotel in the village. Tourists can relax at the pool while overlooking the remains of an ethnically cleansed village. Such destruction of Palestinian homes to create residential and commercial sites come erase villages’ while profiting from the maintenance of some old authentic buildings.

Photo from Eye On Palestine
Lifta Boutique Hotel

Lifta is symbolic of the greater intergenerational resistance of the Israeli occupation and enduring hopes to return. There are previous residents of Lifta who are still alive today with memories of  fleeing their home in 1948. The survival of previous residents and their homes reflect the Palestinian dream of liberation and return to their homeland.

Photo by Fadi Amirah

Despite Israel’s hopes to settle and destroy Lifta’s Palestinian heritage, the hope of return remains strong for the residents of the village. Previous civic engagement by Palestinians resulted in the 2018 World Monuments Watch List declaring Lifta to be one of 25 endangered sites. Moreover, the village is on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites’ tentative list. Such lasting Palestinian heritage cannot go ignored. Netanyahu previously threatened to withdraw Israel from UNESCO for their recognition of Lifta, only making his intentions more clear. The project of illegal settlements are mean to erase historical Palestinian connection to the land and hinder Palestinian collective memory vowed to their land.