22-year-long legal battle ends, opening Jewish land to 100s of housing units

The Supreme Court rejected Palestinian claims to Jewish National Fund land in Gush Etzion.

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

A legal process lasting more than 22 years involving land purchased 74 years ago by Jews from a Christian family, ended this week when the Supreme Court issued a rare and important ruling stating that the Jewish National Fund (JNF), through its property management subsidiary Himanuta, is indeed the rightful owners of 100s of acres in Gush Etzion, Israel Hayom daily reported Wednesday.

Judges Uzi Fogelman, Meny Mazuz and Anat Baron rejected an appeal filed by Palestinian appellants against the decision of the Jerusalem District Court, which likewise ruled that the JNF was the owner of the land, Israel Hayom says.

Following the conclusion of the long legal process, Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim will be able to build hundreds of new housing units in one of the most sought-after areas in Judea and Samaria.

The area in question includes 522 dunams in Gush Etzion, on which Kibbutz Ein Tzurim was established, and on which the offices of the Gush Etzion Regional Council exist. The land was acquired by Himanuta in 1944 from the Christian Murkus family, which immigrated to South America.

Kibbutz Ein Tzurim was initially established on the land, but after the fall of Gush Etzion in 1948, the area was abandoned and the Jordanians took control of the area. With the renewal of Israeli presence in Gush Etzion, in 1969, the kibbutz was re-established and renamed Rosh Tzurim. Today it consists of about 200 households.

In 1996, Himanuta submitted a request to the Civil Administration to register the land in its name, but Palestinians from the nearby village claimed ownership of the land. The case was referred to the District Court, which ruled in 2016 that the documents presented by the Palestinians to prove their ownership of the land were forged and that Himanuta was the rightful owner of the land.

‘Tremendous Zionist Achievement’

The Palestinians appealed the decision through a Palestinian Authority lawyer, and the petition was rejected this week by the Supreme Court.

The judges ruled that the District Court reached its conclusions after a thorough examination of the claims and the plentiful evidence presented to it, and that the Supreme Court had no place to intervene in the judgment.

KKL-JNF Chairman Danny Atar stated that “this is a tremendous Zionist achievement, the result of a stubborn struggle. This historic event and the fruitful cooperation between KKL-JNF and the Gush Etzion Council are proof that KKL-JNF’s mission has not changed, and its mission to preserve Jewish sovereignty in the state of Israel remains in place.”

Shlomo Ne’eman, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, said that “the task of expanding the lands of Gush Etzion is a national mission.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling gives us optimism that the court’s position will benefit the Jews and Jewish land in Judea and Samaria and will not automatically rule in favor of the thieving claims of the Arab intruders.”