Palestinians, members of the Fatafta family, pick olives in their orchard during harvest season in West Bank village of Idna, near Hebron October 14, 2012..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Serious and International Crime Unit on Monday arrested three Jerusalem residents in connection with the fraudulent sale of private Palestinian property in the West Bank.
Two of the suspects were remanded until later this week and a third suspect was released to house arrest. Their names have been withheld until charges are filed against them.
Police suspect that the three, two of whom are attorneys, falsified documents, including consent forms, in the sale of Palestinian property to organizations that deal with real estate in Judea and Samaria. At issue were transactions worth millions of shekels, primarily in the Binyamin region.
Suspicions about the three were raised in land sale cases that appeared before the High Court of Justice. The question of property ownership is often at the heart of many High Court cases involving unauthorized construction.
The State Attorney’s Office then instructed the police to investigate the matter.
Yariv Oppenheimer, who heads the left-wing group Peace Now, said his organization has consistently demanded that a police investigation be opened into fraudulent land sales.
“We hope that settlers now understand that they cannot bring fake documents to the High Court of Justice,” Oppenheimer said. “This is the first time that we see a real action being taken on the issue of fake documents.
“We will not give up until the police and the Justice Ministry make sure that the main settler leaders will also be investigated, as to whether or not they knew or took part in this scheme.”
Yigal Dilmoni, the deputy director of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, said it is well-known that the entire issue of property rights in Judea and Samaria is based on antiquated laws that make it difficult, if not impossible, to fairly assess ownership.
The government-commission Levy Report, which set out a blueprint by which to address those issues, was never adopted he said.
Adopting that report is the best way to insure that property rights in Judea and Samaria are respected and that issues of inequity are addressed, Dilmoni said.