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Israeli court rules settler ownership of West Bank building
Published Wednesday 12/03/2014 (updated) 14/03/2014 22:46
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A picture taken on November 4, 2013 shows the Al-Rajabi
building, a particularly contentious building in the West Bank city
of Hebron (AFP/File Hazem Bader)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- An Israeli court on Tuesday ruled that Jewish settlers were the lawful owners of a long-disputed building in the heart of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

The Supreme Court ruling brings an end to a legal dispute lasting nearly seven years, after the Palestinian Rajabi family said its four-story building had been taken over by Israeli settlers.

Israeli settlements on occupied land the Palestinians want for their future state have been a major source of tensions in US-brokered peace talks relaunched last year.

The building is near a contested holy site known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs in a tightly-controlled Israeli enclave where many streets are off-limits to Palestinian cars.

The settlers were evacuated in 2008, and the court verdict said they would not be allowed to move back in until they get defense ministry approval.

The structure was sold in 2004 by its Palestinian owners to settlers through a "non-Jewish straw man," according to court documents.

When settlers moved into the structure in 2007 the Palestinians charged they had been tricked and said the purchase was invalid, lodging complaints with the police and petitioning the court.

Many Palestinians view the selling of property in occupied territory to Jewish settlers as a betrayal of their national cause, so such purchases are nearly always conducted in secret or through middlemen, increasing the potential for disputes.

The case was debated in the Jerusalem district court, which in 2012 ruled in favor of the Jewish organization behind the purchase.

Neria Arnon, a spokeswoman for the Hebron settlers, told AFP the decision proved the purchase was legitimate and legal.

"We're happy the court confirmed this, and are waiting for the final approval of the defense minister, to do what is necessary to enable us to settle the building," she said.

The head of the left-wing Meretz party, Zehava Galon, called on Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to "refrain from letting the settlers in," due to the "severe security and diplomatic ramifications of such a move."

"One must keep in mind there are 500 (extremist) Israelis in Hebron making the life of 145,000 Palestinians miserable, backed up by the army and police," she said in a statement.

A spokesman for Yaalon said he was "learning the topic."

The flashpoint city of Hebron, home to nearly 200,000 Palestinians, also comprises some 80 settler homes in the centre of town housing about 700 Jews who live under Israeli army protection.
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1 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
12/03/2014 11:39
What we need here is some ethnic cleansing to get rid of the Jews in Hebron. Everybody who understands Palestine knows that they want an apartheid state where no Jews are allowed. Notice that 20 years ago everybody wrote "Hebron is home to nearly 110,000 Palestinans with an Israeli enclave of 500 settlers" - so we know there is no ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, just the Palestinians wanting to get rid of the Jews.

2 ) Ibrahimi Mosque is the / piece of land BOUGHT BY
12/03/2014 12:22
ABRAHAM the father of the JEWS and the ARABS He bequeathed Hebron to the JEWS!!!!

3 ) Luke / Israel
12/03/2014 16:18
@Brian Cohen. The point is that under the occupation there are two sets of law, martial law for the majority Palestinian population and criminal law for the minority settler population.
Then the settlers get army protection, settler only roads, settler only settlements, water, housing and are not subject to arbitrary violence and death by an occupying army.
Apartheid essentially.

4 ) Anthony Glaister / UK
12/03/2014 17:29
It isn't a question of ethnic cleansing; it is a question of consensual integration which involves peaceful co-operation and conciliation or a return to the international boundaries that existed per 1967. Establishing Jewish communities by stealth and force into the very centre of a Palestinian city like Hebron cannot be condoned or supported by those who believe in human dignity, democracy and Godliness. Such incursions are the worst form of illegal settlements and are utterly reprehensible.

5 ) bob of brookline / USA
17/03/2014 20:05
Brian: It is so hypocritical of Israel to demand the right to buy land in the West Bank after having denied the right of Palestinians to return to their homes after they fled a war zone in 1948, and then expropriated their property.
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