Blocking Mideast Peace
Diamonds in Silwan
by Hillel Cohen
Originally published 16 October 1996
in Kol HaIr

The diamond family Ben-David bought a home in Silwan through the Elad association. Tension in the village.

New residents moved into Silwan this week. The Posen family settled into what is called Rimon House, which guards hired by the settlers had entered the night of the elections. The house, bought through Elad, was acquired using monies from the diamonds and hotel businesses of the Ben-David family, and actually belongs to them. They plan to renovate it for use by one branch of the family, while the current residents, a young couple, lives there for the time being. This family then joins donors from all over the Jewish world, especially France and the U.S., who invest their money in Silwan and East Jerusalem. The family is known to have many investments in the territories, both financial and ideological, from the Palm Beach Hotel in Gush Katif [Gaza Strip] to donations to Channel 7 [pirate religious radio station] and other bodies.

Purchase of the house, as usual for the settlers associations in East Jerusalem, was conducted in total secrecy through a Palestinian straw buyer, a former security prisoner who was known to the village as a Fatah activist. By the time the Palestinian defenders of security discovered the deal, it was too late. The Palestinian straw buyer was interrogated extensively in Ramallah and Jericho, but the house had already been registered in the name of the settlers.

Increased settler activity in East Jerusalem raises great concerns among the Palestinians. A flyer was recently circulated in Silwan warning the residents against using lawyers or real estate agents who are not trustworthy.

The flyer, signed by a hitherto unknown group called "Committee for Investigation in Jerusalem", claims that Palestinian land dealers and lawyers are collaborating with the settlers groups, taking deeds from Palestinians, and by underhanded means transferring property to the settlers.

Thus, for example, an investigation is currently underway by Palestinian security units into a well-known Palestinian lawyer in the city who is associated with the Fatah on suspicion that he sold to an Israeli company seven dunams [about 2 acres] on the slopes of Jabel Mukhbar. Another investigation related to that one concerned the involvement of Palestinian officers in land deals. One of the officers has been detained for several weeks in Ramallah, and has admitted to at least one deal.

Copyright 1996, Kol Ha'Ir. For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.

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