Summary: Israeli authority lawfare against Jewish land ownership in Judea
Dr. Aaron Lerner IMRA 28 May 2012
The following is gleaned from a comprehensive article. "Legal Chaos" by
Akiva Bigman published in the 18 May edition of Makor Rishon.
Contact IMRA@NETVISISION.NET.IL for the article as a pdf.
Makor Rishon has developed into a quality publication rivaling and at times
exceeding the depth of the Hebrew print edition of Haaretz.
Section 1 - How a Jewish owned home in Hebron blocked from use by Jews.
Joseph Ezra's father owned a home in Hebron. When the Jordanian Legion
captured the city in 1948 all the assets of Jews were put under the control
of the National Custodian, under the title 'Enemy Property'. There are
dozens of such buildings in Hebron. The properties were leased out to Arabs.
In this case as stores.
In 1967 when Hebron came under Israeli rule the leases to the Arabs were
continued by the Israeli authorities.
The Israeli authorities approved erection of a large apartment house above
the stores called "House of Nahum and Yehuda" . In 2001 it was decided for
security reasons to close the Arab market place and move it - with full
compensation to the store owners - to the Arab part of town.
The property remained empty. After repeated requests of the Jewish
community to use the assets were not answered, a few families entered the
empty property and renovated it, turning the property into proper homes.In
2007 an eviction order was issued. The eviction was appealed to the military
appeals committee, which functions as a kind of court of appeals with regard
to decisions of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria. The
committee observed that it was the obligation of the authorities, as
custodian for the property, to insure that beneficial use comes from it and
that in contrast to the abandoned buildings near it that were in disrepair,
the property in question had been improved and under the circumstances "the
correct and effective use of the property is to allow families to live in
the shops ... ".
Following the instruction of the military appeals committee, the Jewish
community in Hebron- together with Joseph Ezra - submitted a request for an
orderly take over the property. The Civil Administration in Judea and
Samaria ruled that while the military appeals committee was indeed the
format for appealing their decisions that the rulings of the committee were
not binding and could be overruled by the Civil Administration and the
request was denied.
In November 2010 Peace Now petitioned along with the Arab merchants to
remove the Jews from the property.
Section 2 - How rules for agricultural land ownership changed
One common way to to register the ownership of land in Judea and Samaria is
by applying the provision of Ottoman law, that if someone held land for ten
consecutive years without opposition he owns the property. In fact, the
ownership of much of the privately held land inside the Green Line was
established this way.
This method of property transfer is especially useful in the case of
Palestinians who face the death penalty for selling land to Jews. This way
money crosses between the parties and all the Palestinian has to do is keep
quiet for ten years.
In a move to undermine this procedure, Mr. Mike Blass, who serves as Deputy
Attorney General, filed with the Supreme Court that "at present ... the
seizure of land ... is seen as a forbidden and immoral, and as a basis for
anarchy." Blass asked the court to not only bar the future use of the ten
consecutive year provision to record future property ownership but to void
the ownership registrations made to date in Judea and Samaria (by Jews) on
At the same time, Captain Ronit Levin, acting as the legal advisor to the
West Bank Military Prosecutor's Office, issued a series of orders and
directives to strip the ten year rule. She ruled that the ten year count
begins again each time a farmer changes the type of crop that he grows on
Two months ago the Supreme Court upheld this position.
Ronit Levin also came up with an additional legal innovation, called a
"disturbing use" order. It allows the Civil Administration to rule that a
person's possession of property is illegitimate because it may raise
political or security issues. The Civil Administration is not required to
provide any documentation to support the "disturbing use" order.
This order was first issued by the Civil Administration against residents of
the "House of Contention" in Hebron four years ago.
According to lawyer Bezalel Smotritz of the Regavim movement this order has
been used this order twenty time.
The combination of these innovations is a pincer movement which threatens
almost every Jewish farmer in the West Bank.