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Israel high court: settlement must be removed

Peace Now

The Supreme Court of Israel ruled Aug. 27 that a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank had been built on land that was privately owned by Palestinians, and as a result, the settlement had to be removed. The case involved the settlement of Mitzpe Kramim, an outpost in the Jordan Valley built 20 years ago. The settlers claimed that they had been granted authority to build there by the Israeli government. Palestinian plaintiffs filed suit in 2011, arguing that they were the legal owners of the land and the construction that had been undertaken by the settlers was illegal. They asked that the buildings be evacuated.

In 2018, a district court ruled in favor of the settlers, declaring that the government had been unaware that the land was owned when it mapped out the area. The ruling was based on an Israeli law that transactions with legal faults were valid as long as they had been conducted in good faith. The Supreme Court, however, found that the authorities had not acted in good faith, and in fact were aware that there were inaccuracies in their documents and maps regarding lawful ownership of the land.

The court has given the government 36 months to arrange for the removal of the settlers to alternative housing. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement that the government would "exhaust all processes in order to leave the residents in their place."

From Jurist, Aug. 29. Used with permission.

Note: The first such Israeli Supreme Court decision in favor of dispossessed Palestinian property owners was in 2011. Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revealed on the same day as the new high court decision that the Israeli occupation has demolished 25 Palestinian structures in occupied territories and displaced 32 Palestinians over the past two weeks. The demolitions were carried out under the pretext of lacking building permits. "Fifteen of these structures, all but two of which were livelihood-related, were demolished in eight communities in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli military control," OCHA confirmed. (MEMO)