Home Builders Livid Over Civil Authority’s Land Allocation ‘Mistake’

General view of the Samaria settlement of Ariel, on January 17, 2014. Photo by Flash 90.
General view of Ariel, in the Shomron. (Flash90)

Home buyers in the town of Nili, located near Modi’in, are considering suing the Civil Authority – because of a mistake that it made in assigning plots for construction. According to the residents, the Authority, which is the final arbiter on civilian building in Yehudah and Shomron, issued them permits and a green light to build homes – some of which, it now appears, were built not on state land, but on private Palestinian-owned lands, which is likely to make them the target of lawsuits and possibly eviction.

Construction on the 20 homes in question was completed last March, Army Radio reported. The homes are part of a new neighborhood in Nili. The project, like all homes approved for construction in Yehudah and Shomron, was built on state land – land that was not privately-owned before Israel liberated Yehudah and Shomron from Jordanian occupation in 1967.

Generally, the Civil Authority investigates the ownership of land by checking land records (Tabu) going back even to the days of Ottoman rule, and delineates the lots as being privately owned – or, if there are no claims, as state land. The same process was at work in this case, the report said – except that, it turns out, some of the land that was sold and approved for construction is being claimed by Palestinians.

Usually, when Israelis build on land claimed by Palestinians, the Civil Authority halts construction or demolishes structures because the construction was done without permits. The current case, however, is unprecedented, as the Authority gave homebuyers the permits.

Deputy chairman of the Shomron Regional Council, Yisrael Ganz, said that it was unfair to make the residents pay for the Authority’s error. “These are law-abiding Israelis who invested a great deal of money in building their homes. Now they are subject to all sorts of legal problems, all due to an error they had nothing to do with.”

According to the Authority, it is examining the matter, and it hopes to work out a solution for the residents.