An Egyptian bank has filed a lawsuit to reclaim its shares in Jerusalem’s luxurious King David Hotel, bought before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Calcalist daily reported on Monday.
The bank, government-owned Banque Misr, submitted a lawsuit at the Jerusalem District Court through Israeli lawyers Ron Yeshayahu and Gil Makov demanding the restoration of 1,000 stocks in the hotel which it owned in the past.
The iconic King David Hotel, the hotel of choice for visiting heads of state and many other VIP guests, was built at the initiative of Jewish Egyptian businessmen in 1929.
Egypt’s Zilkha Bank (founded by Jews - ed), which also invested in its construction, was allotted 1,000 shares when it opened. In the 1960s Zilkha Bank was merged with another bank when then-Egyptian president Jamal Abdel Nasser nationalized all Egyptian banks, establishing Banque Misr.
Banque Misr has 500 branches in Egypt and other countries.
Over the years ownership of the King David Hotel has passed through several hands. Today it is owned by the network of Dan hotels.
Banque Misr first made its claim for stocks in the hotel in 2008, after Israeli-Arab lawyer Ashraf Jasser alerted the bank to the fact that it still deserved ownership of hotel shares.
The Egyptian bank appointed Jasser to file a lawsuit on its behalf, but the lawyer ended up swindling the bank, claiming that filing the suit required court fees of NIS 10 million ($2.6 million). After receiving the money, Jasser filed the lawsuit – paying the actual NIS 975 ($258) fee – and pocketed the remainder of the money.
For this and other acts of fraud, Jasser was convicted in the Haifa District Court two years ago and sentenced to nine years in prison.
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Egypt sues in Israeli courts for King David shares
Levana Zamir, newly-elected chairman of the Forum of Organisations of Jews from Arab countries in Israel comments:
"The State of Israel, through the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, is being sued by Bank Misr - and rightly so. This is what happens when the Israeli government refuses to claim the vast remaining Jewish property in Egypt - both private and communal. Article 8 of the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt states a Claims Commission must be established, but to-date such a commission has not yet been established, and the loss is the State of Israel's. This could make the state treasury liable for billions of dollars, some of course coming from the Jews of Egypt. Israel 's failure also applies to Iraq, Libya, and Syria and all the Jews in Arab countries. Failure of the State of Israel to secure the restitution of seized Jewish property in Arab countries, would cause endless problems. "
|Lawyer Ron Yeshayahu representing Bank Misr (Photo: Orel Cohen)|
The King David Hotel today