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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09JERUSALEM717
2009-04-28 13:40:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Jerusalem
Cable title:  

OFRA SETTLEMENT BATTLES LEGAL CASE OVER ILLEGAL

Tags:   PHUM  PREL  ASEC  KPAL  PINR  IS  KWBG 
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VZCZCXRO0941
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #0717 1181340
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281340Z APR 09
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4742
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L JERUSALEM 000717 

SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE. NSC FOR SHAPIRO/KUMAR. JOINT STAFF
FOR LTGEN SELVA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2019
TAGS: PHUM PREL ASEC KPAL PINR IS KWBG
SUBJECT: OFRA SETTLEMENT BATTLES LEGAL CASE OVER ILLEGAL
CONSTRUCTION

REF: JERUSALEM 562

Classified By: Consul General Jake Walles, per reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L JERUSALEM 000717

SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE. NSC FOR SHAPIRO/KUMAR. JOINT STAFF
FOR LTGEN SELVA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2019
TAGS: PHUM PREL ASEC KPAL PINR IS KWBG
SUBJECT: OFRA SETTLEMENT BATTLES LEGAL CASE OVER ILLEGAL
CONSTRUCTION

REF: JERUSALEM 562

Classified By: Consul General Jake Walles, per reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (C) Summary. NGO Yesh Din updated Poloff on April 28 on
its legal action in the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ)
to compel the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MOD) to evacuate
and demolish nine homes in Ofra settlement. Yesh Din
believes these homes were constructed illegally on private
Palestinian land. The HCJ ordered the MOD to submit by May
22 a proposal for dealing with this issue. Ofra settlers
said they purchased the land, but did not file the purchase
with the Israeli Land Registry in order to protect the
Palestinian sellers. Poloff observed the nine homes, which
are all inhabited, as well as the concrete foundations for 24
new structures whose construction is currently frozen. End
Summary.

NGO Yesh Din Takes Legal Action Against Ofra
--------------


2. (C) NGO Yesh Din founder and lawyer Michael Sfard told
Poloff on April 28 that Yesh Din is pursuing a HCJ case
regarding nine homes in Ofra on behalf of Palestinian
landowners who claim they own the land on which the homes are
built. Sfard said the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MOD)
admitted during a March 23 court hearing that most of the
residential units in Ofra were constructed without permits.
As the Yesh Din case is potentially precedent-setting, the
MOD seeks a "more general solution" that does not involve
evacuation and dismantlement in Ofra, which, Sfard contends,
the MOD considers a "prominent and mainstream" settlement.
Sfard said the HCJ ordered the MOD to explain by May 22 how
it proposes addressing this issue. Sfard suggested that the
MOD's response will not be substantive, "putting the ball
back in the HCJ's court." He pointed out that the nine homes
were inhabited illegally eight months ago, before they were
completed, contrary to an injunction order.


3. (C) In response to the settlers' claim that the land was
purchased legally, Sfard said that registered land cannot be
transferred without a permit from the Israel Land Authority,
saying, "there are dozens of Palestinian plot owners involved
in Ofra's legal case, and the settlers have never proven
their claims."

Settler Residents of Nine Homes Await HCJ Verdict
-------------- --------------


4. (C) Ofra settler and spokeswoman Ruchie Avital told
Poloff on April 24 that the land for the nine homes was
legally purchased from Palestinians "for a lot of money by
Ofra as a community," and claimed that Ofra never registered
the purchase with the Israel Land Authority because "the
sellers' lives were in danger," and Ofra wanted to "protect
the sellers from reprisals." When asked if the Israel Land
Authority had issued permits for the sales, Avital replied,
"there are buildings all over Israel that have not yet gone
through the full administrative process. The two options are
to legalize these buildings or destroy them; the State must
legalize them." According to Avital, Ofra agreed to freeze
construction on an additional 24 structures because "we do
not want any more legal trouble." Poloff observed concrete
foundations on the 24 new building sites. Sfard suggested to
Poloff that the MOD advised Ofra to freeze construction on
these residential units to "keep its head down" during the
current legal proceedings.


5. (C) Poloff also observed the nine completed homes, which
are located in the "Givat Zvi" neighborhood of Ofra's
built-up area, and are all inhabited. Avital told Poloff
that the residents are young Israeli couples who have paid
high mortgage rates for almost one year and are concerned
about potential eviction and financial loss if the HCJ
directs the MOD to demolish the homes.

WALLES