Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has warned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that expropriating land and homes from Palestinian Authority Arabs in Judea and Samaria and giving them to Jews could lead to the issue of the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria being brought before the International Court in The Hague.
According to a report on Sunday by Haaretz, Weinstein's position is the reason that Netanyahu decided to approve a request by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in April and evacuate the Beit Hamachpela in Hevron.
Barak decided to evict the residents of Beit Hamachpela in Hevron on April 4, violating an agreement made with Netanyahu and other senior ministers to delay action on the issue until several weeks later.
The 15 families who were evicted from the home bought it from an Arab and had moved in after the sale, fearing the building – uninhabited – would be occupied by local Arabs before the Civil Administration validated their purchase.
According to the Haaretz report, Weinstein reiterated his position during Friday’s discussions on the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El. The report said that the concern is that Israel or Israeli officials will be prosecuted in the criminal courts in The Hague under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that transferring an occupying population into occupied territory is a war crime.
Last week, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the State's petition to postpone the destruction of five buildings in the neighborhood. The State had asked for a three-month extension in order for the government to find a way to legalize the buildings.
The threatened homes were built on land purchased by Beit El several years ago. However, the seller turned out not to be the real owner and the latter filed suit to get his land back. The court ruled in his favor and the government agreed, without argument, to destroy the houses.
One year later, the government's legal office came to survey the site and realized that the buildings in question were permanent apartment blocks, built in good faith by people who thought they had legal ownership, and that the legal office should have asked the courts to allow them to try and find a way to solve the ownership problem before the court issued a ruling.
Several senior ministers in the coalition have pushed for legislation that would mandate financial compensation or alternative land grants in lieu of eviction and demolition in cases where a court determines a claim to the land is valid. The bill for legalizing Jewish outposts and disputed neighborhoods will be brought for a vote in the Knesset on Wednesday.