Ownership Issues With Hebron Houses Prevent Settlers' Return, Defense Minister Tells Settler Leaders

Ya'alon meets with settler leaders, says eviction from contested property could have been avoided had the correct paperwork been filed.

A soldier removes Israeli flag from a house as troops forcibly evict Jewish settlers from homes they illegally entered in Hebron, January 22, 2016.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told settler leaders Sunday that a string of problems was discovered in the recent deal to purchase two houses in Hebron that prevent settlers from returning to the site.

Ya'alon met with the heads of Yesha Council in his office Sunday afternoon in the first meeting since settlers were evicted from the Hebron homes and the defense minister faced a wave of criticism from the right in its wake. Besides the heads of the settlers' regional councils, the meeting was also attended by Ze'ev (Zambish) Hever, secretary-general of Amana, an organization promoting construction projects in settlements.

According to people who were present at the meeting, Ya'alon told the settlements' local council heads that the Civil Administration is examining claims that the Palestinian who sold the houses to the settlers is only the owner of a storage unit on the site, and not the whole property.

Israeli border police evict settlers from a Hebron home, January 22, 2016.
Haverim Leshah Tzarah

Ya'alon mentioned that the Palestinians who claim ownership of the property even filed a complaint with the police following the occupation of the homes, and that it is being examined.

A person present at the meeting noted that Ya'alon told Kiryat Arba local council head Malachi Levinger that the whole affair could have been avoided had he acted in accordance with guidelines and passed on all the paperwork regarding the deal to the Civil Administration for inspection.

During the meeting, the local council heads asked to step up the security of the settlements in light of the increase in attacks in the West Bank, especially the infiltration attacks in Otniel, Tekoa and Beit Horon. Ya'alon promised that the Defense Ministry will transfer additional sums toward it.