Khayat v Attorney-General

CourtDistrict Court (Israel)
Israel, District Court of Haifa.

State Succession — Succession to Obligations — Land Requisitioned by British Army in Palestine — Power of Army to Dispose of Property after Termination of Mandate — Status of British Army in Israel after Termination of Mandate — Anglo-Israel Agreement of March 30, 1950, for Settlement of Outstanding Financial Matters.

The Facts.—In 1941 the British Army in Palestine requisitioned land belonging to the plaintiffs, although the formal requisitioning order was not issued until 1944, and subsequently erected buildings upon the land; which was retained by that army until the latter half of June 1948. Although the Mandate terminated on May 15th, British forces remained in Haifa thereafter to cover the final withdrawal, which was completed by mid-1948. There was no formal agreement between the Israel and British Governments regarding the presence of units of the British Army on Israel territory; at the time Israel was not recognized by the United Kingdom. About ten days after the British Army had relinquished the land and buildings, the Israel Defence Forces took possession of them, and remained in possession of them. In November 1949 the plaintiffs commenced negotiations with the Israel Ministry of Defence regarding payment of rent for the land and the buildings. Those negotiations led to no result as the Ministry thought that the buildings had passed automatically from the British Army to the Israel Government. The present action was for a declaration that the plaintiffs, as owners of the land, were owners of the buildings. Their argument was based on the maxim solo cedit quod solo inaedificatur and upon an agreement said to have been made in March 1948 (before the termination of the Mandate) regarding the costs of reinstatement, by which the plaintiffs, inter alia, waived part of their claim. Furthermore, there was produced a confirmation by the British Hirings Officer, dated June 11, 1948, to the effect that the buildings were regarded as the property of the plaintiffs. There was also adduced a further confirmation, dated October 29, 1951, from the British Services Claims Organization, an organization which was then operating in Israel in order to dispose of claims against the British Government following an Agreement between the Israel and British Governments of March 30, 1950.1 By Article 7 of that Agreement, “the Government of the United Kingdom shall transfer to the Government of Israel...

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