Israeli Court Orders Firm to Compensate West Bank Settlers for Building Illegal Homes

National housing company, Amidar must compensate Rechelim settlement residents as per Tel Aviv court ruling; at issue are 14 homes sold by Amidar in the early 2000s.

Amidar, the national housing company, must compensate the residents of the Rechelim settlement for selling them homes constructed without a building permit, the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court ruled on Monday.

The community, home to a few dozen families, was founded in 1991 and named for Rachel Druk, who was killed in a shooting attack that year, and Rachel Weiss, who was killed with her three children in a bus attack in the Jordan Valley in 1988.

Rechelim - Tomer Appelbaum - 22112011
Tomer Appelbaum

The settlement began as a Nahal army outpost and then housed a school of advanced Torah studies for girls. Under the first Netanyahu government, houses were built there by various official housing bodies, even though there never was an approved building plan for the area. Nothing built there ever received a building permit.

At issue are 14 homes sold by Amidar in the early 2000s. In 2009, when several residents who wanted to expand their homes discovered there was no legal way to do so, they sued Amidar for breach of contract.

"I paid good money for my house, and no one told me that there were no building permits," said Erez Ben-Saadon, one of the complainants.

"Now I can't expand it with a proper permit. I also don't know what might happen in the future. If they decide to expel us, maybe we won't get any money," he said.

Homes bought 'as-is'

Amidar argued that the residents had signed that they were buying the homes "as-is," and it was their decision to purchase them under those circumstances.

Judge Ishai Koren had suggested that the two sides come to a compromise, but Amidar refused. As a result, Koren ruled that Amidar must pay NIS 15,000 to each of the residents, plus court costs.

He also ruled that Amidar must start, within 60 days, the process of regularizing the construction, and must report its progress to the court every three months.

"It is inconceivable that the state or one of its representatives would sell homes that were not built according to a valid building permit," Koren said. "It would have been better if this embarrassing case had never come to court."

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: חברת עמידר תפצה מתנחלים לאחר שמכרה להם בתים ללא היתרי בנייה