A legal battle lasting 22 years involving land purchased 74 years ago by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) ended this week when Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that JNF is indeed the rightful owner of the 522 dunam tract in Gush Etzion, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday. A three-judge panel rejected an appeal filed by Palestinians against the decision of the Jerusalem District Court, which likewise ruled that the JNF was the owner of the land.
Kibbutz Ein Tzurim was established on the land, which was purchased in 1944, but the kibbutz was destroyed in 1948 and the Jordanians took control of the area. With the renewal of the Israeli presence in Gush Etzion in 1969, the kibbutz was re-established and renamed Rosh Tzurim, and it will now be able to build new housing units.
The area in question includes 522 dunams in Gush Etzion, on which Kibbutz Ein Tzurim was established, and on which the offices of the Gush Etzion Regional Council exist. The land was acquired by Himanuta in 1944 from the Christian Murkus family, which immigrated to South America.
Kibbutz Ein Tzurim was initially established on the land, but after the fall of Gush Etzion in 1948, the area was abandoned and the Jordanians took control of the area. With the renewal of Israeli presence in Gush Etzion, in 1969, the kibbutz was re-established and renamed Rosh Tzurim. Today it consists of about 200 households.
In 1996, Himanuta submitted a request to the Civil Administration to register the land in its name, but Palestinians from the nearby village claimed ownership of the land. The case was referred to the District Court, which ruled in 2016 that the documents presented by the Palestinians to prove their ownership of the land were forged and that Himanuta was the rightful owner of the land.
Shlomo Ne’eman, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, said that “the task of expanding the lands of Gush Etzion is a national mission.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling gives us optimism that the court’s position will benefit the Jews and Jewish land in Judea and Samaria and will not automatically rule in favor of the thieving claims of the Arab intruders.”