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The dispute at hand goes back to 2007, when 20 Jewish families moved into the Hebron house claiming they had “bought it from its Palestinian owner.” At that time, the Palestinian owner, who remained unnamed in several stories about the dispute, claimed the house had been illegally seized. In a hearing in October of 2008, the settlers presented the court with an audio tape on which the owner admits he had sold the house to a realtor. The High Court of Justice was unmoved and order the eviction to proceed.
The ongoing dispute continued to fester until April 2, 2012, when the settlers were ordered to leave the house by the Israeli Civil Administration. Officials contended that the sale violated public order in what has been declared a restricted military zone, tellingYnet News that the eviction order was issued “due to security concerns” and that such a sale “poses a threat to the stability of the area.” They further contended that even if the house had been purchased legally, the contract still requires the authorization of the defense minister. On April 3, Prime Minister Netanyahu delayed the court-ordered eviction in order to give settlers time to prove their ownership. At that time it was first reported that the unidentified Palestinian seller was “a former PA security officer who lives in the Gaza Strip,” who had “been detained by the PA for months now, while the affair is being sorted out.” The article further noted that as a result of selling the house, “[H]e is expected to serve a prolonged prison sentence.”
On April 6th, the Jewish settlers were finally evicted, and the three-story building has been sealed until an Israeli court can establish the legal owner. The settlers have remained camped in tents near the house since their expulsion.
None of this apparently matters to PA authorities. Abu Shahala remains on death row for the “crime” of selling real estate to Jews, even as the sale itself remains in dispute in an Israeli court. It remains to been seen if PA president Mahmoud Abbas will sign his death warrant, or whether any international pressure will be brought to bear in the case. The above letter was published ten days ago, suggesting international inertia at best–or calculated indifference at worst.
Yet it is telling that Mr. Shahla’s most ardent defenders are Jews, including, as Arutz Sheva reported on April 15th, “several Israeli Knesset Members and leaders in Judea and Samaria,” while those who would kill him are his fellow Palestinians. In 1957, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
That day has yet to arrive.
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