In First, Israel Mulls Using New Law to Confiscate Palestinian Lands for Illegal Settlement

Israel tells court contemplating using new land-grab law to 'legalize' seven structures, roads built on private Palestinian land.

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian farmer visits his land near the settlement of Shvut Rachel in the West Bank.
Tomer Appelbaum

Israel has told the High Court it is contemplating using recently passed legislation to confiscate privately owned Palestinians lands in the West Bank. The lands in question contain seven structures in the West Bank outpost of Adi Ad and a number of roads built illegally on private lands.

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This could be the first time that state uses the so-called Regularization Law to expropriate private Palestinian lands in the West Bank.

A group of Palestinians had filed a petition with the High Court through the Yesh Din legal aid group in 2014, demanding that the illegal outpost of Adi Ad be dismantled. At the time, Israel's legal representatives said in response that a demarcation team surveyed the area and found that six structures in the outpost were built on parcels "that are not state lands."

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An additional structure, as well as a number of roads and paths within the outpost, were also found to be built in part on non-state lands, they said.

Israel stressed in its 2015 response that the status of the illegal homes built on state lands would be normalized. Now it seems that the same regularization might also be extended to the structures built on private lands, a move made possible by the passage of the controversial Regularization Law.

Regarding the illegal structures found "outside of the state's declared land," state prosecutors wrote on Tuesday that "given the legislation of the Regularization Bill for Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], the state needs to examine this law's ramifications regarding the structures in question."

Adi Ad was established in 1998 next to the settlement of Shvut Rachel, considered part of the so-called Shilo settlement block. It's home to a handful of settlers. In 2015, after Israel responded to the original petition, Haaretz reported that Israel followed through with only six of the demolition orders given for the 65 structures built in the outpost.

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The law, passed by the Knesset last week, allows private Palestinian land to be expropriated in order to retroactively legalize settlements. Israel's top court has already received petitions against its legality and the court is expected to shoot it down as unconstitutional. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has said he would not defend the law it in court.