Josh Hasten, journalist and host of the Reality Bytes podcast on Arutz Sheva - Israel National Radio, called for changing the name of the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El to the Ehud Barak Neighborhood.
Five apartment complexes in the neighborhood have been ordered demolished and the residents evicted by July 1st because the government's legal office did not put up a defense when the Arab man who claimed ownership filed suit in the Supreme Court.
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Hasten says that since the neighborhood was established during Ehud Barak's term in the Prime Minister's Office over a decade ago, "the residents of Ulpana should thank him for building their homes." Hasten said that "it might become much harder to tear down buildings named after our current Defense Minister, with his image in pictures and posters plastered all over the neighborhood."
Hasten commented that while the situation looks bleak, there is still hope. MK Danny Danon stated in a interview on Hasten's show last week that Prime Minster Benyamin Netanyahu can still prevent the order to destroy the buildings by overruling the Supreme Court.
"At this point," said Hasten, "in addition to hoping that Prime Minister Netanyahu does the right thing, and puts a stop to this plan, which would force 30 Jewish families out of their homes and essentially into the street, actions must be taken to prevent this from being carried out by reminding the public that it was under Barak himself that the Ulpana neighborhood was built."
The Supreme Court ruled that although the legal matter of ownership of the land was not brought to conclusion in magistrate's court, where the suit is still being heard, the homes must be vacated and razed.
Only the top row out of three rows of buildings are contested. The land was bought by Yeshivat Beit El.
According to Baruch Gordon, a resident of Beit El and an employee of Yeshivat Beit El, the land was purchased for a large sum from Ibrahim Judah Mustafa Hasan, a resident of the nearby community of Dura Al Qara. Gordon said he was listed as the living heir of Ibrahim Mustafa Hasan Hasan, whose name appeared on the Land Registry.
Some Beit El residents say that the elder Hasan was given the land as a gift by the King of Jordan during the Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria between 1949-1967. "The empty tract of land was never used and there was no tradition of property ownership," Gordan stated.
The NGOs Peace Now and Yesh Din later filed suit on behalf another man named Harbi Ibrahim Mustafa Hasan, who claimed that he is the actual legal heir and that the sale of land was fraudulent. The New York Times on June 6th quoted Ibrahim Mustafa Hasan as stating that Judah Mustafa Hasan has since been jailed by the Palestinian Authority. The PA consides it a crime punishable by the death penalty to sell land to Jews.
According to Jordanian law, if a new owner doesn’t use the land within four years, it reverts to State ownership. Israeli land ownership laws do not have standing in Judea and Samaria, but since Jordan abrogated all rights to the area, Arab residents are allowed to turn to the Israeli courts. Since most Palestinian Arabs do not want to recognize the court system, which is tantamount to recognizing the state, they turn to the Supreme Court.
However, the Supreme Court does not check land ownership and rules on the evidence it is given, under fomer Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch's policy that only state land can be authorized for construction in Judea and Samaria.
In May of this year, Supreme Court President Justice Asher Grunis and Justices Salim Jubran and Uzi Fogelman decided to issue demolition orders against the five buildings by July 1, 2012.
The Yesh Din organization stated on their web site that because the current Jewish occupants are renters, the residents cannot claim ownership.
Hagit Ofran of the Peace Now organization stated on the Peace Now web site that she is in favor of the demolition order because "a zoning plan and a building plan would be needed for that land." Since the land was purchased privately, it is outside the zoned area of Beit El and could not get a registered building plan. This happens often in Israel, not only in Judea and Samaria, where zoning and authorization can take years.
Reality Bytes with Josh Hasten airs live every Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 am - 12 noon Israel time on Arutz Sheva's live stream English language radio cast. All shows are archived as podcasts and can be downloaded for free by clicking here.