IDF soldier stands guard near Beit Hamachpela_370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Settlers plan to legally appeal the refusal of the Civil Administration of Judea
and Samaria to certify their purchase of a three-family building, known as Beit
Hamachpela, located in Hebron.
Settlers moved into the building at the
end of March after buying it from its Palestinian owners. Security forces
forcibly evicted them within a week, in early April, pending investigation of
the purchase claim and because they had failed to obtain the necessary permits
to enter the building.
On Tuesday, the civil administration sent a letter
to the settlers’ attorney, Doron Nir Tzvi, informing him that a number of
technical discrepancies prevented legalization of the sale. The letter explained
that the three apartments the settlers purchased were only a portion of a larger
structure, which had been left to a number of heirs in 1984.
administration said that it had not been able to establish the identity of all
the heirs to the property, or which ones owned the section of the building in
The problem was complicated by the fact that the structure had
been altered since the original owner left it to the heirs, the administration
said. The purchase contract itself was very vague, and did not specify which
part of the structure had been sold.
In addition, one of the power of
attorney documents related to the sale was notarized by the PLO Embassy in
Jordan which is not recognized by Israel.
Hebron Jewish community
spokeswoman Orit Struck said that the purchase was legal. She noted that the
administration had not questioned the fact that a monetary transaction had
occurred or that a contract had been drawn up.
Its response, she said,
was simply a “flimsy excuse” not to recognize the sale’s legality.
only solution is for the government to authorize the sale, Struck said.
Otherwise years of the courts time will be wasted validating the
Right-wing politicians immediately called foul and urged the
government to adopt the recommendations of a government-sponsored report on
unauthorized West Bank construction penned by a three-person legal team led by
former Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy. The report calls on the government to
legalize such building and to create an independent legal system to handle West
Bank property disputes.
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) charged that the civil
administration’s decision had little to do with law and everything to do with
Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s preelection campaign efforts.
continues to push the party to the Left for the purposes of elections,” Hotovely
said. “The ministerial committee must immediately convene to change the
decision,” she said. It should also authorize the Levy report, “so that Jewish
property rights can’t be harmed by the arbitrary will of officials and
The Knesset Land for Israel lobby echoed her opinion,
calling the civil administration’s response “shameful.”
It added that the
time had come to end the civil administration’s “judicial abuse of settlers by
denying them their basic rights.”
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union)
called on Likud ministers who had initially sworn to support the settlers’
purchase of the building to now make good on their word.
“Once again it
appears that the Likud ministers can issue statements, but in actuality, it is
Barak who is in charge,” Ben-Ari said.
But Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said
she supported the civil administration’s stance.
It can not approve the
purchase if its not completely legal, Ofran said.
“No political argument
should change the law,” she added.