MKs demand PM rescind 'Beit Hamachpela' evacuation order

IDF had ordered Hebron settlers to leave home by 3 p.m. Tuesday; move comes after 15 Jewish families move into Hebron apartment building, lacking proper permits; police investigating legality of sale.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
April 2, 2012 18:31
3 minute read.
Beit Hamachpela in Hebron

Beit Hamachpela in Hebron370. (photo credit: Facebook image)

 
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A number of high-level members of Knesset condemned the order of evacuation facing settlers in the "Beit Hamachpela" (House of the Patriarchs) apartment building, labeling the move "underhanded" and "unacceptable," and calling for the the prime minister to intervene and rescind the order.

Earlier Monday, the IDF demanded that West Bank Hebron settlers leave an apartment building in their city, called "Beit Hamachpela" (House of the Patriarchs) by 3 p.m. on Tuesday, giving the settlers 24 hours to evacuate the home.

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On Thursday, some 15 Jewish families from Hebron and the nearby Kiryat Arba settlement moved into the vacant three-story apartment building without the proper permits.

The Hebron families said they purchased the apartment building from its Palestinian owner and moved in at this time because the structure was vacant, and they feared Palestinians would take over the building. It is located across a small park from the Cave of the Patriarchs, in a Palestinian neighborhood under Israeli military control.

The police and the Civil Administration were investigating the legality of the sale.

The IDF, however, ordered the families out of the home because it said their presence disturbs the public order.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein protested the move. "It is unacceptable," he said.



MK Michael Ben Ari noted that the IDF's excuse could be used to evacuate any Judea and Samaria resident from his or her home.

Right-wing MKs, particularly from the Knesset Land of Israel lobby have called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to revoke the IDF order.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai wrote to Netanyahu Monday afternoon asking him to intervene.

"I ask you to instruct the defense establishment to exercise discretion before any future action is taken," Yishai wrote in a letter to Netanyahu. Saying the house in question was bought at full price, Yishai said the Jewish families entered it legally.

The government, the interior minister added, should strengthen and not make life more difficult for Jewish residents of Hebron. "I ask that you personally review the facts in a fair and balanced fashion."

The head of the Council for Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said the evacuation order amounts to a distortion of justice and discrimination.

"The request to evacuate the 'Beit Hamachpela' (House of the Patriarchs) after its purchase was reviewed and deemed sound is a total distortion of justice, and intolerable discrimination," Dani Dayan said Monday via a written statement.

"It carries the name of security in vain," he charged.

Dayan compared the situation in Hebron to that of the Migron outpost, where the High Court of Justice ordered the state to evacuate settlers living there because they were occupying land classified as belonging to private Palestinians.

"In Migron they explained to us that the right to property is sacred... but when the owners are Jews, then all of this is forgotten," Dayan said.

Netanyahu is already scheduled to hold a ministerial meeting on the matter on Tuesday.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar decried the fact that the IDF decision came prior to Netanyahu's scheduled ministerial meeting, adding that "if the house was purchased legally, there is no justification for evacuating the residents."

On Sunday, attorneys for the families met with representatives from the Civil Administration and the Attorney-General’s Office for Judea and Samaria.

After the meeting, one of the lawyers sent a notice to the press saying the Civil Administration had confirmed the authenticity of the sale.

However, the Civil Administration still had not authorized it, he said.

In Hebron, all such sales must be approved by the Administration.

Since Thursday, Border Police have blocked off the building and only the families who moved in, and politicians, have been allowed access.

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