A district court has ruled that the Palestinian Authority judicial system cannot be trusted to decide fairly who owns the Peace House in Hevron, where police expelled the Jewish residents a little more than a year ago. The Peace House was ordered to be emptied until lower courts decide who is the rightful owner of the property.
Judge Yitzchak Avner noted that the PA law that imposes the death sentence on an Arab who sells land to a Jew precludes a fair hearing in its courts. Tal Investments, representing the Jew who paid cash for the multi-story building on the road between Kiryat Arba and the Patriarchs’ Cave in Hevron, had asked the court to rule against Arab interests who wanted the case to be heard in PA courts.
Attorneys for the Jew who says he purchased the building have provided filmed evidence of the transfer of money, but the Arab who is said to have sold it claims the evidence was forged. He faces a death penalty at the hands of the PA if the sale is verified.
Judge Avner noted that the death sentence precludes a fair hearing in the PA courts. He wrote, “Even if I suppose that the PA court in Hevron has authority in this case, it is not practical” in this case, commenting that Israelis are not allowed to enter Arab areas of Hevron.
Referring to the PA law against selling land to Israelis, he stated that if it is disclosed that the transfer of property was done through Arab intermediaries whose identities become known, a fair ruling “is very doubtful” because of the threat of a death penalty.
He also said that the alleged Arab sellers previously have depended on the Israeli judicial system. The Arab petitioners who asked for the case to be handed over to the PA courts were ordered to pay 10,000 shekels ($2,600) in court costs.