Israel Says Built Homes on Palestinian Land in West Bank Settlement in 1980s

The Housing Ministry confirmed that the Beit El buildings were put up beyond the area of permitted construction, on what 'we aren’t sure is state land,' but said it was a mistake

Beit El. The President-elect himself made out a $10,000 check for its residents and the settlement has a plaque in honor of U.S. ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman.
Nasser Nasser/AP

Israel built two apartment buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El on privately owned land in the 1980s. The Housing and Construction Ministry said they were built in that location by mistake.

The buildings, which are home to dozens of families, were managed by the Amidar Public Housing Authority for decades.

As far as is known, the land is owned by Palestinians, who have never tried to reclaim it.

The buildings were managed by Amidar for decades.
Olivier Fitoussi

Amidar said that in 2012 it sold the buildings to an organization called Sukkat Ovadia, with the Housing Ministry’s consent. Members of the Beit El Local Council said the group also runs the Beit El yeshiva.

Sukkat Ovadia rented some of the apartments to Arutz Sheva, also known in English as Israel National News.

The Housing Ministry confirmed that the buildings were put up beyond the area of permitted construction, on what “we aren’t sure is state land,” but said it was a mistake.

The ministry denied Amidar’s claim that the buildings were sold to Sukkat Ovadia, insisting that they were merely rented to the organization.

“The fact that Amidar is also involved in stealing privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank shouldn’t surprise anyone,” said Dror Etkes of Kerem Navot, an organization that researches Israeli land policy in the West Bank. “It would be much more surprising if we were to discover one day that there is some government or public agency that isn’t involved in the looting business,” Etkes said.