Ya’alon authorized Hebron house purchase, but settlers can’t move in

State expected to issue response to appeal by Palestinian families to prevent settlers from moving in until legal issues settled.

September 24, 2013 10:33
3 minute read.
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel and his Bayit Yehudi compatriots at Hebron house

Bayit Yehudi members in Hebron house 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Bayit Yehudi)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon authorized settlers’ purchase of apartments in a three-story building in the West Bank city of Hebron, but Jewish families still can’t move in yet, his spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday morning.

The move advances the bureaucratic process to allow Hebron Jewish families to live there, but doesn’t complete it, the spokesman added.

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday night said the families could live in the building, as a response to the Palestinian killing of an Israeli soldier near the structure on Sunday evening.

On Monday, 14 Palestinian families appealed to the High Court of Justice to prevent settlers from moving in until the bureaucratic process is completed and all legal issues have been adjudicated.

The state on Tuesday asked the court to reject the petition as superfluous. It clarified that settlers would not be allowed to move into the home until all legal procedures had been followed.

It gave the Palestinian petitioners until the end of October to respond.

On Monday, Bayit Yehudi politicians, including Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel and MKs Orit Struck, Mordechai Yogev and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, held a small faction meeting in the contested building, as well as a Succot celebration with members of Hebron’s Jewish community.

“Our response to these terrible terrorist attacks is to build more and more and to populate more and more structures like Beit Hamachpela,” Ariel said. “They are trying to excise us, and our response is to strengthen our roots deeper in the land of Israel.”

According to the state, in its response to the High Court, some of the settlers remained overnight. The IDF asked them to leave, and they did so in the morning. The state clarified that Israelis were not allowed to use the building, and that the IDF would prevent them from doing so until an occupancy permit was issued and all legal procedures had been followed.

Separately, Deputy Defense Minister MK Danny Danon (Likud Beytenu) visited the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Monday and called for the Beit Hamachpela building to be populated.

“We are saying clearly that Jewish blood cannot be spilled in vain. We will pursue the murderer and his emissaries and make them pay,” Danon said.

Hebron Jewish families had purchased Beit Hamachpela and moved into it at the end of March 2012. The IDF forcibly evicted them on April 4, because their purchase documents had not been authenticated and they lacked a purchase permit.

In July, a military appeals court validated their purchase of the structure, which abuts a Palestinian school and borders a section of the city under Palestinian Authority control.

Palestinians live in a small section of the building which was not purchased by settlers.

In spite of their court victory, the Hebron families were still barred from moving into the property because they lacked a final signature of approval from Ya’alon. He in turn waited for the Civil Administration to finish the authorization process for the purchase.

A part of that process allowed for an objection period.

Attorney Samer Shihadih, who represents the Palestinian families, said that he had been waiting for that objection period to assert the claims of his clients that they owned the structure.

He has asked the High Court to issue an injunction to prevent the settlers from moving into the home until the authorization process was completed and until his clients had exhausted their legal options.

Netanyahu, he said, acted in the heat of the moment, but did not have the authority to authorize the families to move in until all proper steps had been taken.

“This will be a long process,” he said.

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