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Ministry documents highlight West Bank land acquisition network

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent
printed in Haaretz

Top secret documents from the Justice Ministry from the early 1990s confirm the existence of a vast network of ties between successive Likud and Labor governments and land dealers and settlers’ associations, for the purpose of acquiring land in the West Bank.

Copies of these highly confidential documents were sent to the ministers of defense, justice and housing as well as the attorney general.

The documents were presented to the High Court of Justice during the hearings of petitions submitted by residents of the West Bank village of Bilin and the Peace Now organization. The petitions are over the construction of hundreds of apartments on village land and the route of the separation fence in the area.

In a confidential letter sent in November 1990 to the coordinator of activities in the territories, Plia Albeck, who at the time headed the civil department of the State Attorney’s office, wrote that “because this area was apparently purchased by the Hakeren company, and it therefore hold the rights to this area and because it asked from the supervisor of government property to manage it, then this area is apparently government property.”

It seems that the senior representative of the Ministry of Justice is unconvinced that Hakeren indeed purchased this land legally, inserting the word “apparently” twice in allowing the area to be declared “government property.”

Albeck asks for complete confidentiality, claiming that the revelation of the deals may endanger the sellers’ lives.

It should be noted that one of the parties to this deal was land dealer Shmuel Einav, whose name has been linked to a major land deal in the Har Shmuel neighborhood adjacent to Jerusalem, where Palestinian lands were obtained with the aid of falsified documents.