Possible land fraud in the West Bank || Ulpana developer lied and told residents that outpost was built on WZO, not Palestinian land
Documents submitted to High Court show that residents of Beit El neighborhood in West Bank say did not know their home was built on private Palestinian land; purchasers were told by developer that tract was bought by WZO.
A housing developer allegedly lied to an Israeli couple who had purchased a home in the Ulpana Hill West Bank outpost, Haaretz learned on Tuesday, after telling them that the land on which their unit was built was owned by the World Zionist Organization, despite the fact that it was actually private Palestinian land.
The documents were revealed as part of an ongoing petition submitted to the High Court of Justice by a couple, residents of the Beit El neighborhood of Ulpana Hill, who claim they bought their home without knowing it was built on Palestinian land.
Consequently, the Israeli couple would like their case to be discussed before their house is demolished, in accordance to a separate High Court ruling.
Specifically, two papers submitted to the court point at the possibility of large-scale fraud on the part of the Ulpana hill developers – Company for Developing Beit El's Yeshiva Complex.
The first of those is the contract signed between the developers and the couple, in which it is stated that the purchase took place "since the WZO holds tracts of land by power of an agreement between the organization and the supervisor of governmental purchases in the West Bank."
The second evidence of alleged fraud is a document produced by the WZO, in which the organization confirmed that the couple's house was built on WZO land.
Both documents were then submitted by the couple to Bank Mizrahi-Tfahot in order to obtain a mortgage on the house. This is despite the fact, as a High Court ruling determined, that the outpost was built on private Palestinian land.
In response to Haaretz's inquiry, the WZO's Jewish settlement division said that the document submitted to the High Court did not relate to the land on which the Ulpana Hill outpost was built, adding that the developer never disclosed they had land in that location.
In addition, a Haaretz investigation shows that the document purporting to establish WZO ownership of the Ulpana Hill land in fact relates to another Beit El neighborhood, Maoz Tzur, which was legally built.
This new revelation came after, last week, police documents indicated that settler leaders knew from the start that Ulpana Hill was built partly on privately owned Palestinian land, even though residents claim they bought the houses in good faith.
Yoel Tsur, the Company for Developing Beit El's Yeshiva Complex's CEO, admitted in a police interrogation three years ago that it was built on land whose purchase was never finalized.
Tsur, a long-time Beit El resident, has run the Company for Developing Beit El's Yeshiva Complex for the last 20 years. In 1996, his wife and son were killed in a terror attack near the West Bank settlement. Shortly thereafter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (then in his first term) and then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai agreed to build a new neighborhood in their memory. In the end, two neighborhoods were built: Maoz Tsur and Ulpana Hill.
In 2008, Palestinians petitioned the High Court, claiming they own the land now occupied by five of Ulpana's 14 apartment buildings, each of which has six apartments. They also filed a police complaint for trespassing.