Israeli Court Rules Contentious Hebron House Must Be Returned to Settlers

In victory for settlers, judge rules that 'House of Contention,' which settlers originally broke into in 2007, was purchased legally from Palestinian owners and should be returned to them.

The Jerusalem District Court ruled on Thursday that the state must return a house in Hebron to settlers who were evicted from it in 2008, saying that they purchased it legally from its Palestinian owners.

The court said the house must be returned within 30 days.

The court ruled that the real estate sale agreement signed between Tal Building and Investments Karnei Shomron and a group of Hebron settlers with the original owners is legal and should be implemented by transferring the home to the settlers.

The four-story house, known as Beit Hameriva (the House of Contention), was built in 1995 in the a-Ras neighborhood  of Hebron, strategically linked to Kiryat Arba and adjacent to the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

In 2007, a group of settlers broke into the house, claiming that they had purchased it three years earlier from Abdelkader Salwar and Faiz Rajabi. The house was purchased by a front man named Ayub Yosef Jabar. In December 2008, the settlers were evicted by security forces in clashes that ignited riots and sparked wide public debate.

Responding to the court decision, Kiryat Arba council head Malachi Levinger said that the court ruling strengthens our longstanding claim of our right to purchase and settle throughout the Land of Israel.

Nahi Eyal, director of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, insisted the settlers deserve compensation. "The prosecutors should apologize and compensate the buyers. This is proof of the State Prosecution's and Attorney General's bias, on which the Levy Report on the legal status of building in Judea and Samaria is based. This underscores the crucial need for a body to supervise the State Prosecution."

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said in a statement, this is a formative moment that should change all the warped misconceptions expressed against settlement. Purchasing property in the Land of Israel is the fulfillment of Zionism, and the state should encourage and provide incentives for such acts.

Daniel Bar-On