The man who purchased the Hevron Peace House from its Arab owner lost his patience with government claims that its residents are living there illegally, and spoke out this week to confirm that the sale was conducted legally.
The buyer is a religious United States Jew of Syrian descent whose ancestors were thrown out of Hevron by the Arab pogrom of 1929. "B"'s great-grandfather and other relatives who were in Hevron at the time of the attacks managed to escape without injury, he said.
Having paid $700,000 for the building in a legitimate transaction, he expressed outrage with “Israeli democracy” that the government is relating to the Jewish presence in his building as an “invasion.”
"We have given the government videotapes and pictures proving that the building was purchased honestly," he emphasized, videotapes in which the former owner is seen receiving money, counting it, and then signing documents granting the rights to the building to the buyer.
The process of selling and buying the 4,000 sq. meter structure, took several years to conclude, said Jewish community spokesman David Wilder in a statement after the purchase in March 2007. The Peace House, as it has been renamed, overlooks the road between Hevron and Kiryat Arba,
The Jordanian businessman who owned the building risked his life in the expensive transaction without realizing it, explained Wilder, because he thought the building was being sold to another Arab. "B." also said he never dealt with the seller. "We had people working for us to handle that," he told Ha'aretz this week. "But I have pictures and video footage that prove everything in legitimate. The Israeli authorities also have the material. They know it's all kosher."
The sale itself was conducted through a third party office in Jordan, said Wilder, who added that selling Arab property to a Jew is a capital crime punishable by death in the Palestinian Authority.
Wilder cited an interview by a CNN journalist in Hevron in which an Arab woman said she wanted proof of the sale in order to put the former owner on trial.
Another Arab resident of the city told an IDF Army Radio reporter at the time, "If the Jews really did buy it, all the more power to them. But we will find the seller and chop him up into tiny pieces."
A year ago, added Wilder in the March statement, an Arab who sold his house to Jews was murdered by Fatah gunmen in Jericho who called him a traitor.
Twenty Jewish families now live in the building which “B” purchased, and plan to stay despite efforts by Palestinian Authority Arabs and by the Israeli government to drive them out.