08 March 2018

The Israeli occupation authorities and settlers’ groups, which operate with the political and security backup of the government, have been making recourse to women-trafficking and extortion to seize and Judaize Palestinian homes and lands in Occupied Jerusalem.

Audio recordings published by Haaretz in January revealed talks between the chairman of the Ateret Cohanim settlement group, Mati Dan, and Palestinian property owners in occupied Jerusalem, offering them prostitutes and Viagra. He then threatens to expose them if they do not give up their property and sell it to the group, which sometimes uses companies registered in so-called “tax havens” where tax evasion and money laundering go completely unchecked.

The recordings revealed that Dan and a number of the group’s employees, who are affiliated with the religious Zionist settlement movement, have talked about ways to expropriate Palestinian-owned property in occupied Jerusalem for more than two decades, including offering prostitutes – provided they are not Jewish – as well as the recording of talks with prominent social dignitaries and politicians and negotiating for their property. If they still refuse to give up their property, details of the discussions are published, as the group believes that the mere fact that talks took place will harm the property-owners’ reputation.

In one recording, settlement group lawyer Eitan Geva explains how to approach the owners of a property in occupied Jerusalem. He tells them: “There are two ways to do this, either give us the property in secret and the matter is over, or you go to the court where your father’s truth will be exposed and everyone will realize that he was doing it for the sake of the Jews because of his cooperation with them.”

One of the methods that Mati Dan has ordered his employees to adopt is to use fake names and fictitious people, as well as companies registered in “tax havens” where money laundering is commonplace. He also ordered them to collaborate with a person known only as “Hay”.

Hay is said to be one of the most prominent contributors to the looting of Arab property in occupied Jerusalem. Someone close to Dan told Haaretz that the title was given to a very high-ranking official in the Orthodox Church (the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem), without mentioning his name, and said that he is one of the major collaborators with the settlement group and is credited with its possession of a lot of real estate.

Over the years, Dan has established a wide network of close ties with senior officials, including Knesset members, ministers and the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat. He has used his contacts to obtain Palestinian property, either through the aforementioned ways or from the state after the issuance of a judgment which “proves” that it was Jewish property in the past.