Beit HaShalom, (Hebrew: בית השלום, lit. the House of Peace, or, otherwise, Beit HaMeriva ("The House of Contention"), or the Al Rajabi House settlement  is a four-story structure that formerly housed a local Hebron Jewish community of 25 families, youth and yeshiva students. The structure is located on the main road linking Kiryat Arba to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.  In April 2014, a Jewish settler family moved in the new settlement, after Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon gave the go-ahead. Monitoring Human Rights institutions like TIPH and "Breaking the Silence" highly criticized this step as an act of continuous settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian Territories.
The Al Rajabi House is named after the Palestinian Faez Rajabi who, together with Abdelkader Salwar, originally purchased the land and built the four-story structure. The building, on a 1,100-square-metre property with space for some 20 apartments, was constructed in 1995 in Hebron's a-Ras neighbourhood. The Palestinian developers originally designed it for their own use as shops and apartments, but the construction was not fully finished.
Settlers’ take-over of the building
On 19 March 2007, over 200 Jews, mostly yeshiva students from the Hebron area, entered the building in the evening hours. They reached the building by running through an Arab village. The decision to enter the building now was reached after the Jews of Hebron received information that Arabs intended to enter the building in the near future.
The settlers named the house "Shalom House". Hebron Jewish Community's spokesperson Noam Arnon said the entry into the house was not meant for provocation but for peaceful residence by Jews. About the importance of the building, spokesmen stressed: ″The house of peace, on the main road between Hebron and Kiryat Arba is an additional link in the growth of the City of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Bonding Hebron and Kiryat Arba, this building will provide homes for dozens, if not hundreds of Israelis, waiting to live in Hebron.″ The IDF, who arrived upon the take-over, provided security for the settlers.
The settlement was politically controversial as was the legality of the purchase. The then Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and his deputy Efraim Sneh, had stated that they would evacuate the Jewish residents, citing an order from the Israeli military's Civil Administration of the West Bank whereby the occupation or transfer of ownership of homes in the West Bank by Jews needs to be coordinated, as well as a 1980 decision that any expansion of the Jewish community be approved by the Israeli cabinet. But ministers and MKs who spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he opposed evacuating the home at this stage, and hinted that he would prefer to block an evacuation until after the Labor primary, when Olmert was expected to have an easier defense minister with which to work. A clear majority against the evacuation was expected if the matter would come to a vote in the cabinet.
In September 2007, the Ministry of Defense prohibited the settler families from preparing their homes for winter, upholding a court order that forbade any change in the status quo of the house. In the building were no windows, only gaps where windows were intended to be installed. The gaps were sealed with plastic sheets.
Legal battle for ownership
Legality of the purchase
The settler's lawyer Nadav Ha'etzni stated that his clients had purchased the building as early as 2004. A Palestinian straw man, Ayub Jaber, had signed a contract with Rajabi on 23 March 2004. Ayub Jaber, who worked on behalf of the Jewish group, signed the sale agreement with the Jordan company "Tal Building and Investments Karnei Shomron".
The site was reportedly purchased by a descendant of the earlier Hebron Jewish community. According to the Jewish settlers who lived in the building, a deal was signed in 2007 with the original Palestinian owners of the building, transferring ownership to the local Jewish community. This claim was disputed in the Israeli High Court, and questions were raised as to the legality of the purchase by the Tal Building and Investments Karnei Shomron group's use of a straw man named Ayub Yosef Jabar to deal with its legal owners, Abdelkader Salwar and Faiz Rajabi.
An Israeli High Court ruling on 16 November 2008 determined that some of the sale receipts submitted by the settlers might be forged. An order was issued for the site to be evacuated. After the court order was given, the Israeli settlers built barricades, and prepared to resist efforts to have them evicted. The Israeli inhabitants were ordered out of the building, though they refused to leave voluntarily. When the High Court ruled in favour of the government's decision to evacuate the site, Baruch Marzel declared that "We must go to war, using any means to prevent this crime from occurring."
On 3 December 2008, the Jewish settlers were evacuated from the site by Israeli police. Israelis and Palestinians clashed following the evacuation, and 17 Palestinians and 35 Israelis were injured as a result.
In September 2012, the Jerusalem District Court ruled in favor of the settlers after they provided a video of the Palestinian they had purchased it from counting the money he had received in payment. The court held that the original vendors had turned a blind eye to the fact that the buyer was a strawman working for a Jewish group. Nachi Eyal, Director of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, commented that “The Minister of Defense and representatives of the State Prosecutor need to apologize and compensate the owners in Hebron.”
In March 2014 the Israel Supreme Court ruled that Beit ha Shalom had been purchased by Morris Abraham, a Jew from Brooklyn. Additionally with this ruling, all appeals by the Palestinian owners, who regard the deal as fraudulent, have been exhausted, and no further hearings will be held. NGO Peace Now has warned Jewish residence there will require the IDF to employ extra resources to secure the area. The court also ruled that the purchasers still owed the vendor $217,000, and could not reoccupy the dwelling until the remaining sum had been paid.
A family subsequently took up residence in the building in mid April, 2014.
- Itamar Fleishman 'Court: Settlers purchased Hebron house legally,' Ynet 13 September 2012.
- Tovah Lazaroff,'Ya'alon. Settlers can move into Hebron house,' Jerusalem Post 13 April, 2014.
- OCHA Special Focus Unprotected: Israeli settler violence against Palestinian civilians and their property
- Gov't bans Hebron settlers from winterizing controversial house. Haaretz, September 26, 2007.
- Hebron settlers try to buy more homes, Jerusalem Post, April 13, 2007
- Palestinians lose appeal over Hebron house ownership. Chaim Levinson, Haaretz, 11 March 2014.
- Legal Affairs: The house that Rajabi built. Dan Izenberg, Jerusalem Post, 20 November 2008
- Hebron settlers give up comfort to expand Jewish holdings. Jerusalem Post, 15 April 2007
- 200 Jews Enter New Building in Hevron: ′Peace House′. Arutz Sheva, 20 March 2007
- Beit HaShalom – the House of Peace – a new Jewish building in Hebron. Jewish Community of Hebron, 19 March 2007
- Hebron settlers try to buy more homes. YAAKOV KATZ AND TOVAH LAZAROFF, Jerusalem Post, 13 April 2007.
- Olmert won't let Peretz evacuate Hebron house. Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, 12 April 2007
- Gov't bans Hebron settlers from winterizing controversial house. Haaretz, 26 September 2007
- Israeli court rules contentious Hebron house must be returned to settlers. Oz Rosenberg, Haaretz, 13 September 2012
- Descendants of 1929 massacre survivors bought Hebron house Haaretz, 26 December 2007
- 'Settlers unlikely to be removed from disputed Hebron house anytime soon. Haaretz, 6 June 2007
- Showdown looming over settler evictions. ABC News Australia, November 24, 2008
- Harel, Amos (2008-04-02). "Olmert hints: No forced evacuation of Hebron house; Barak to review army - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
- Efrat Weiss, 'We'll go to war over Hebron house, warn settlers,' in Ynet, 17 November 2008.
- High alert in West Bank following Beit Hashalom evacuation. Jerusalem Post, December 4, 2008
- VIDEO / Settlers filmed shooting at Palestinians turn themselves in
- Wilder, David.Court's Ruling for Hebron Jews Mends Barak's Violation of their Rights, Honoring Israel's Moral Obligation September 15, 2012.
- Hebron’s Beit HaShalom to Return to its Jewish Owners
- 'Ya'alon allows settlers to return to disputed Hebron house,' Ynet, 14 April 2014.
- Tovah Lazaroff, 'HJC authenticates Jewish purchase of Beit HaShalom in Hebron,' Jerusalem Post,11 March 2014.
- 'Ya'alon allows settlers to return to disputed Hebron house,' Ynet, 14 April 2014.