News from Peace Now's (Israel) Settlement Watch:
Last week the High Court rejected a petition submitted by landowners of the village of Nahla, located south of
Bethlehem, and approved the declaration of 1,341 of their lands as state land. This petition was the last legal
obstacle that stood in the way of the government's plan to establish a new settlement with thousands of housing
units east of the separation barrier in Givat Eitam. The plan, known as "E2," has disastrous consequences on the
two state solution as it blocs Bethlehem from the south and cuts the southern part of the West Bank in half, quite
similarly to the plan known as E1.
Today, Peace Now submitted a petition to the high court, demanding to be notified regarding the intention to allocate the land to the settlers, in order to be able to then petition against it and try to prevent the establishment of this new settlement. This petition, together with another petition demanding the transparency of land allocations, are an effort to change the current method of land allocation, which is done without any publication and does not allow for any public debate or legal objections. Needless to say, through this method 98.7% of the lands that were allocated in area C, were allocated to Israeli settlers, while less than 1.3% were allocated for Palestinian purposes.
Peace Now: "Although the High Court approved the land grab, the decision regarding the use of the land is in the government's hands. The government can now choose to allocate the land for settlers and build a settlement that might bury the two state solution, but it can also choose not to do so while seeing the Israeli interest as superior to settler pressure and demands. Instead of continuing its record of deepening the occupation creating a one state reality, we urge the government to stop this dangerous development by deciding not to allocate the land to settlers."
In 2004 the Head of the Government Property in the Civil Administration declared 1,341 dunams in the area of Nahla, south of Bethlehem, as state land. Palestinian land owners appealed this declaration at the Military Appeals Committee and after their appeal was rejected they petitioned to the High Court. On September 7, 2015 the High Court made an interim decision in which it rejected the majority of the petitioners' arguments but in one matter (the question of plots in which partial cultivation had taken place) it recommended to go back to the Military Appeals Committee. As a result, an additional hearing took place and the petitioners were requested to deliver a detailed map of the plots in question. In last week's verdict the High Court stated that since the maps submitted were unsatisfactory, there is no reason to go back to the Appeals Committee. Thus, the entire 1,341 dunams are now considered state land.
For additional background on Givat Eitam click here.
For the Court's Verdict (in Hebrew) click here.
To see this update on our website click here.