Following last week’s UNESCO resolution recognizing the Tomb of the Patriarchs as a Palestinian world heritage site, Hebron’s evicted Jewish settlers are renewing their campaign to return to Machpelah House in Hebron.
In 2012, Netanyahu’s then Defense Minister Ehud Barak sent hundreds of soldiers to expel the legal owners of the Machpelah House in Hebron from their building.
In 2013, following a shooting incident in Hebron, Netanyahu was looking to allow the Machpelah House rightful owners access to their property, but the High Court of Justice ruled against the settlers, represented by the Harhivi movement (the name comes from Isaiah 54:2, “Enlarge the place of your tent / And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings / Do not spare / Lengthen your cords / And strengthen your stakes.”). The court cited irregularities in the purchase.
In December 2015, the First Registration Committee—which deals with registration of real estate, and which to this day constitutes the legal basis for registration of unregistered land in Judea and Samaria—determined that the settlers had not produce all the necessary documents and that some of them were unreliable.
Harhivi appealed the committee’s findings, and two weeks ago the supreme committee on real estate registrations issued its conclusions regarding the appeal, stating that “there is an immoral gap between the evidence we saw in the committee’s file and its consequent determinations.”
The supreme committee recommended voiding the original ruling against the Jewish owners.
This is a good place to note that the cause cited by Barak for the evacuation was not any fault in the deal itself, but the fact that as things stand in Judea and Samaria, the Defense Minister is permitted to use his power arbitrarily to maintain public order. In other words, even if the purchase was pure as the driven snow—which it was, and all the sides, buyers and sellers alike, had been willing participants with not a hint of coercion—which they were, Barak would still be within his rights to evict them.
Push forward five years, and today, two Defense Ministers later, and in light of the flagrant UNESCO declaration that erased 3,500 years of Jewish presence in Hebron, the legal owners of Machpelah House believe they have a shot at going home.
And so, according to a rumor published on the citizen-reporters website Rotter, the legal owners are planning to sneak back into Machpelah House in the coming weeks, sans coordination with the powers that be, and let’s see Netanyahu and Liberman evicting them from their homes in the UNESCO sanctioned Palestinian heritage site.
The Harhivi movement, for its part, issued a statement saying, “We demand entry into the houses that were legally purchased, and let the inspection of our right of ownership be carried out while we are in the homes – let’s put an end to the injustice and the devastation of property rights.”
“This should be the government’s response to UNESCO’s resolution,” the Harhivi statement concludes.