State: Hebron families must leave Beit Hamachpela

Fifteen families were given one week to move out.

Beit Hamachpela (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Beit Hamachpela
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Fifteen settler families have seven days to vacate a three-story Hebron apartment building called Beit Hamachpela, which they illegally moved into, the state told the High Court of Justice on Sunday.
“The group of Israelis who entered the building in July have to evacuate it,” the state said.
The state told the court it planned to spend a week attempting to sway the families to peacefully leave the premises, before forcibly removing them.
At issue is a structure located across the parking lot from the Cave of the Patriarchs in a small area of the city that is under Israeli military control. Some 1,000 Jews live in that section of an otherwise Palestinian city of 220,000 people.
In 2012 the 15 families claimed to have purchased the building from the Abu Rajab family and moved into the structure.
The IDF forcibly removed them, and an agreement was reached by which they would refrain from moving into the property until they were able to register it.
But after five years of a protracted bureaucratic process, which included an appeal to a military arbitrations committee, the property has yet to be registered.
Last month, the settlers moved in, claiming that because the IDF had given them permission to purchase the property, they did not need to wait until completion of the legal proceedings.
They received initial verbal support from right-wing politicians. The Prime Minster’s Office and the Attorney-General’s Office held a number of meetings to explore avenues by which the families could remain in the building.
The families can ask the Civil Administration’s registration committee to temporarily give them rights to hold onto the property during the legal proceedings to transfer the title to their name, the state said.
“The state’s position is unfounded and has no basis in law,” a spokeswoman for the families said. The law does not require registration before possession, she said.
The Abu Rajab family has claimed that the settlers had not purchased the building and had petitioned the High Court for their removal.
Among the issues in question is whether the sale was done through a family member with rights to the property.