Following the killing of an IDF soldier in Hebron in September 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared his intention to encourage the establishment of a new settlement in Hebron at a site known as “Beit Hamachpela” (or the Abu Rajab House). Yesterday (December 28, 2015), the permission to establish this settlement was denied after the Registration Committee of the Civil Administration ruled that the settlers failed to prove their alleged purchase of the Palestinian house. The settlers may still appeal to the High Court of Justice against this decision.
Peace Now: “This is yet another example of the method settlers use in order take over Palestinian properties: first they create facts on the ground by taking over land or houses; then they claim to have bought them and open long and exhausting legal procedures; and finally they launch political campaigns to put pressure on the government to side with them. While in many cases claims of purchase are proven as false, on other occasions the settlers’ illegitimate method succeeds and new settlements are established. In either case, settlers often manage to stay on site for many years“.
On March 2012, around 100 settlers entered a Palestinian property in Hebron which they subsequently named “Beit HaMachpela.” They argued that they had purchased the property from its legal owner. A month later, the IDF decided to evacuate the settlers, since no valid purchase documents were provided.
Since then, the settlers submitted to the Civil Administration what they claim were purchase documents, and have asked to register the house under their names.
The registration process is a long legal procedure in which claims of ownership are examined by the Registration Committee of the IDF, and the public is granted an opportunity to file counter claims of ownership. In order to start the process at the Registration Committee, one must submit the documents to the Civil Administration for an initial check. Assuming the Civil Administration decides that the documents are sufficient, the Minister of Defense should then approve the purchase and the registration process at the Registration Committee may begin.
In the case of “Beit HaMachpela,” the documents the settlers submitted to the Civil Administration were rejected off hand due to problems with the documents. The settlers appealed this rejection to an IDF appeals committee, and on June 30, 2013, the committee accepted the appeal and returned the file to the Civil Administration to complete the initial check.
Subsequently, The Minister of Defense approved the acquisition and the registration process at the Registration Committee had begun. During that process, the Palestinian owners of the house submitted counter claims of ownership arguing that the house was never sold to the settlers. On December 28, 2015 the Registration Committee ruled against the settlers and rejected their ownership claims.
For more information on “Beit Hamachpela” see here.