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31 May, 2015

Jewish millionaire buys abandoned church to expand Israeli settlements — Haaretz

TEL AVIV, May 28, 2015 (WAFA) – Recent works to renovate an abandoned church in the southern West Bank are aimed at allowing illegal Jewish newcomers to settle in the site, Wednesday revealed the Israeli daily Haaretz.

According to the daily, a non-profit organization controlled by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz is the owner of the church compound near Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, in the West Bank, which the buyers intend to turn into a new Jewish settlement.

Haaretz reported that right-wing activist Aryeh King had purchased the abandoned church compound and is refurbishing it ahead of establishing a new settlement outpost at the site.

King, who specializes in buying Arab-owned real estate, purchased the property three years ago from its church owners, Haaretz said. The 38-dunum complex is located on the main road between Jerusalem and Hebron.

A source in the Gush Etzion Regional Council told Haaretz that the property is owned by the Swedish church and belongs to them. The compound is located near the illegal settlement of Karmei Tzur.

Settlements are illegal under international law as they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory. Settlers living in the West Bank are also not considered as Israeli citizens in many countries.

The settler population in the West Bank is estimated at 531,000: in late 2012 the population of the West Bank settlements was 341,400; in late 2011 there were 190,423 individuals living in Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.