Police Suspect Bills of Land Sale at West Bank Outpost Were Forged

Police: Investigation focuses on Israeli-owned firm responsible for purchasing land from Palestinians.

The Israel Police's National Fraud Investigation Unit is investigating the authenticity of some of the documents involving the sale of lands in Migron, an outpost outside Ramallah inhabited by Jewish settlers, Haaretz has learned.

The investigation, according to police sources, focuses on an Israeli-owned firm that belongs to the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council. The firm, called "Al Watan," was responsible for purchasing the land from Palestinians.

Between 2004 and 2005, two Migron families contacted the Civil Administration - the government body that tends to the civilian needs of Palestinian residents of the territories - to apply for permits to build permanent houses on plots bought by Al Watan and then leased to the settlers.

The settlers provided Civil Administration officials with documents allegedly proving their ownership of the land. The bill of sale, which was stamped in Orange County, California in 2004, bears the name of an Arab seller by the name of Abed Al-Latif Hassan Somarein. Police believe the bill is a forgery.

The suspicion is based on Palestinian documents that list a person of that name as having been dead since 1961. The Civil Administration, according to police, has contacted Al Watan numerous times for additional documentation, but has so far received none.

Full-fledged settlement

Seven years after its establishment, Migron now looks like a full-fledged settlement, with two permanent houses and more than 60 prefabricated homes, and it is home to 50 families, with 150 children.

In January, the state prosecutor told the High Court of Justice that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had decided to evacuate Migron, an unauthorized outpost, by the beginning of August. The declaration was made in response to a petition filed before the court by West Bank Palestinians, on whose private land the outpost was supposedly erected.