Beit Hamachpela
Beit Hamachpela Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu concluded late on Tuesday night a lengthy discussion with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Ministers Benny Begin and Moshe Ya'alon, on the subject of Beit Hamachpela (House of the Patriarchs) in Hevron.

Channel 10 News reported that it was decided that the house will be evacuated by April 26.

A source involved in the details told Channel 10 that legal experts who attended the meeting announced that, if owners are unable to prove they bought the house legally, it will be evacuated within 30 days from the date of entry, unless they leave on their own initiative.

Earlier, Netanyahu said the evacuation is on hold until the facts can be verified.

"I am coordinating with the defense minister. I asked him to hold off on the evacuation so we can establish the legal facts in this case, and that is what we are doing," Netanyahu said.

The Prime Minister's comments came after a 3:00 p.m. deadline from Defense Minister Ehud Barak for 15 Jewish families to voluntarily leave the building passed without action from the IDF.

Barak had said he would force the issue, but has apparently backed down in the face of united and angry opposition from Netanyahu's ruling Likud party.

Of particular note is that Barak's push to evict the families at Beit Hamachpela was based not on a court challenge to the purchase, but the families’ failure to properly validate the sale with his ministry.

The families say they moved in after the sale fearing the building – uninhabited – would be occupied by local Arabs before the Civil Administration validated their purchase.

Several Likud lawmakers have charged Barak is seeking to use the issue as an electoral ploy – his Independence party continues to poll beneath the requisite threshold to be seated should elections be held.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) visited the home on Tuesday morning and said that he is convinced Jews will continue to live in it.

"Had someone said that the purchase was illegal, that would have been a different situation," he said. "There is no extraordinary security situation here that forces the eviction. As long as everything was done legally, an Israeli government headed by Likud has to encourage settlement."

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