Court says settlers can remain in Hebron home for now

Families who illegally entered contentious building get temporary reprieve from the judges they had called "racist."

The home in Hebron currently illegally occupied by 15 settler families (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The home in Hebron currently illegally occupied by 15 settler families
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The High Court of Justice on Sunday issued an injunction that bared the IDF from forcibly evacuating 15 Jewish families from a three-story apartment building in Hebron, called Beit Hamachpela, until September 10.
The court issued the order in response to a petition by the families. They asked for permission remain in the structure pending the completion of the bureaucratic process by which they hope to register the building in their name with the Civil Administration.
The families illegally moved into the building in July, five years after they first made public their claim to have purchased the property from the Abu Rajab family.
The Abu Rajab family denies that the property was sold and filed a petition to force the removal of the settlers.
The state told the court it planned to evacuate the house on Sunday, if it failed through negotiations to sway the families to voluntarily leave the premises. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told reporters last week that the families had to leave the home.
But in a petition to the court, the families charged that the Civil Administration was “racist” because it had failed to register the property.
“The Civil Administration’s actions are a testament to its flagrant discrimination against the Jews. It is called ‘racism,’” the families said after their attorneys Yitzhak Meron and Avi Segal filed the petition. The families are represented by the Right-wing NGO Widen The Tent. “While the Civil Administration maintains that the real Jewish purchasers cannot enter the property, it closes its eyes when the Arab [petitioners] break into the property,” the families said.
“It’s a good thing that our forefather Abraham didn’t have to register his purchase of the Tomb of the Patriarchs with the Civil Administration," the families quipped.
They also noted that the Palestinian Authority had imprisoned the member of the Abu Rajab family who had sold them the property.
The families argued that legally there was no prohibition to their living on the property before its registration. This is particularly true given that the Civil Administration has given the right to purchase the property.
The initial owner of the building died in the 1980s and left it to multiple heirs. At issue is whether or not the descendant of the original owner who sold them the building had the right to do so. Part of the decision involves determining the authenticity of a number of powers of attorney.
Hagit Ofran of the left-wing NGO Peace Now said that the “settlers never stop deceiving the public and the courts. They do not have the rights to property.”