The IDF’s Civil Administration in the West Bank has annulled the claimed purchase of a contentious Hebron building by Jewish settlers.
On Monday, a real-estate registration committee in the administration ruled that settlers who briefly squatted in Beit Hamachpela in the West Bank city in April 2012, claiming to have purchased it from Palestinian owners, “did not prove the purchase of rights to the property, nor the possession of it,” according to quotes from the ruling cited in an Army Radio report Wednesday.
The Palestinian family that owned the house at the time of the purported purchase denied the home had been sold. The sale of Palestinian real estate to Israeli Jews carries the death penalty in the West Bank.
The Abu Rajab family said in 2012 that as many as 120 members of the extended family had some stake in the building, and it was possible that one of them had signed over the entire building under the pretense of owning it.
The house, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site, has been in the middle of a dispute between the settlers and Israeli authorities who have contended that the alleged buyers could not prove they had purchased the building.
Then-defense minister Ehud Barak ordered the house evacuated the day after the settlers entered it. “We will continue to ensure the rule of law,” he said. “The claim that the house was purchased will be examined in a professional, nonpartisan way.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the house briefly reopened to the settlers in September 2013, after the killing of two IDF soldiers in the city by Palestinians.
The Monday decision, which follows an appeal by the settlers against a previous Civil Administration ruling, said the documents provided to the committee could not be authenticated.