Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that a Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank was illegally built on privately-owned Palestinian land and has ordered their removal.
The case involved the settlement of Mitzpe Kramim, an outpost in the Jordan Valley built 20 years ago after the settlers claimed that they had been granted authority to build there by the Israeli government.
Palestinian plaintiffs filed suit in court in 2011, arguing that they were the legal owners of the land and the construction that had been done on the land by the settlers was illegal. They asked that the buildings be evacuated.
In 2018 a district court had ruled in favour 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.
In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the high court decision as a mistake going on to say; “We will exhaust all processes in order to leave the residents in their place and we are convinced that we will succeed.”
Placing most of the responsibility for what it called “the painful outcome for Mitzpe Kramim’s residents” on the state, the court gave authorities 36 months to find alternative housing for them.
Most countries consider the settlements built on land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war as illegal. Israel and the United States dispute this.
The Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future state. About 450,000 Israeli settlers live in the territory among some three million Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank was put on hold this month after a deal with the United Arab Emirates normalised their ties.
Source: Palestine Monitor