Settlers win lengthy Hebron house dispute

Supreme Court rules that Palestinian’s claim of sale document forgery is unfounded

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A view of the West Bank city of Hebron. (photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90)
A view of the West Bank city of Hebron. (photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90)

An appeal by a Palestinian man over the legality of a building’s sale in the West Bank city of Hebron to Jewish settlers was rejected Tuesday by the Supreme Court, which fined the man NIS 30,000 ($8,600) in court expenses as well.

The court stated that Faiz Rajabi’s claim that papers documenting the sale had been falsified was unfounded, and added that legal ownership of the building should be returned to the settlers at once.

Following the ruling, a number of Jewish residents of Hebron announced that they would resettle the building, which had been vacant since 2008 following a forced IDF eviction, Maariv reported. The decision whether to allow the settlers to return to the building, dubbed the “Peace House” by Jews in the city, lies in the hands of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Tuesday’s ruling comes a year after the court’s initial decision to reject Rajabi’s claim and to accept the Jewish settlers’ plea regarding ownership of the house.

In 2007, the building was settled by Jewish residents of the city after they claimed to have purchased it from its original Palestinian owner, Rajabi. Rajabi appealed to the Supreme Court immediately after the building had been settled.

The settlers remained in the building for nearly a year, against the advice of the IDF and the Defense Ministry. In late 2008, the IDF evacuated the building, a move met with violent opposition from the city’s settlers and other right-wing activists who arrived at the scene. Several settlers were wounded during the clashes, and a number of Palestinian stores were vandalized.

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