JERUSALEM (AP) — Police are investigating whether residents of a rogue West Bank settlement used forged land deal documents in an effort to thwart their upcoming court-ordered eviction, an Israeli anti-settlement group charged Monday.
Under a Supreme Court order, Israel's government must dismantle the Migron outpost by Aug. 1 because it was built on private Palestinian land. On Sunday, the government asked the Supreme Court to delay the evacuation by a month, its latest attempt to put off a potential clash with extremist settlers. The court has yet to rule.
Earlier this month, Migron settlers claimed they had bought some of the land from Palestinians, said Hagit Ofran, a spokeswoman for the settlement watchdog Peace Now. She said Peace Now proof that the sales are forgeries and filed a complaint with police.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld confirmed an investigation has been launched, but he would not elaborate.
Ofran said Migron settlers received a court ruling that the property documents would not be made public, on the grounds that this could endanger Palestinians involved in the alleged sales. Palestinians selling land to Israelis are viewed in their community as traitors and face harsh punishment, even a death penalty.
"Of course, the true reason is because it's all forgery," Ofran said, "and they want to make it harder for us to know how and through whom they forged the documents."
Migron spokesman Itay Hemo declined to comment.
Migron is one of dozens of settlements established without formal government approval. Ultranationalists began settling Migron, about 15 kilometers (10 miles) north of Jerusalem, more than a decade ago. It has since become a symbol of settler defiance, as its residents have resisted efforts to dismantle the enclave.
Palestinians want the West Bank to be at the core of their future state that would also to include Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.