Home in HaYovel
Home in HaYovelIsrael news photo: Flash90

The government has finally decided to authorize the zoning plan of the more-than-3,000-strong town – but a cloud still hangs over the homes of fallen war heroes.

Kobi Eliraz, the “mayor” of the Samaria town of Eli – some 30 kilometers north of Jerusalem – welcomes the new official State position to “finally regulate and authorize our town’s zoning plan.” A State Prosecution representative informed the Supreme Court of the new decision, in the course of a hearing regarding claims that part of the HaYovel neighborhood is privately owned by Arabs.

“This is good news,” Eliraz told Arutz-7, “and the first time that the State has said that it plans to give final authorization to HaYovel and all of Eli. After 27 years, it is certainly about time! But the problem is that they added in the words ‘wherever possible.’ This is the real Achilles’ Heel of this decision.”

The concern is that six homes in the HaYovel neighborhood might be razed because of the claims – including the homes of the families of fallen war heroes Ro’i Klein and Eliraz Peretz.

Mayor Eliraz says that there is no justification for leaving these homes out of the authorization process. “Just because there are some aerial photos from 40 years ago indicating that the land [on which the six homes were built] was being worked is no reason to destroy the homes now. For one thing, no one is claiming ownership over the land! Secondly, when Eli was built, no one was working this land!”

These points were researched and brought to the court's attention by the legal advisor to the Samarian Regional Council, who pointed out that despite concerted efforts by left-wing groups to find claimants, no Arab has stepped forward to claim the land. This, he said, makes it highly likely that the cultivation 40 years ago was done by usurpers and not owners - and that the land should therefore be considered ownerless by default. Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch responded that any land in Judea and Samaria  that was once cultivated, no matter how long ago and no matter if unclaimed, must be Arab by default.

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Mayor Eliraz brought out a third, more basic point - namely, that the homes need not be razed under any circumstances: "If someone ever comes forward and proves ownership, there are many acceptable ways of compensating him – with no need to destroy the homes. Can you imagine if someone would come with a photo showing that his grandfather’s grandfather worked the land on which the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv now stand – would they destroy the building? Of course not. They would simply pay fair compensation.”

Since no Arab has come forward to claim the land and demand that the homes be razed, the radical-left Peace Now organization has done so instead, bringing the matter to the Supreme Court. The court is to issue its ruling in the near future, in which it will weigh the State’s declaration of intent to legalize and authorize the homes and the entire town with Peace Now’s claim that the homes were built without authorization.