Israel Orders Plans Be Drawn Up to Legalize Jordan Valley Settlement Outpost

State tells High Court that demolition orders against the illegal outpost should not be implemented because the Civil Administration is working on a plan to legalize it, as instructed by political officials

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The West Bank outpost of Einot Kedem, last year.
The West Bank outpost of Einot Kedem, last year.Credit: Alex Levac

The Defense Ministry has instructed the Civil Administration to make plans to legalize the heretofore illegal outpost of Einot Kedem and the so-called Omer’s Farm near the settlement of Yitav in the Jordan Valley. So the state told the High Court in response to a petition against the outpost and the demand to demolish it.

The petition was filed by attorney Tawfiq Jabarin in the name of the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust, which owns the land. The state confiscated the land in 1977 by means of a military order, to be used for military purposes. In 1989, the area was allocated to the World Zionist Organization for the establishment of the settlement of Yitav. Later, the outpost of Einot Kedem was established, on land originally intended for cultivation by Yitav.

The method of expropriating land for military purposes and then establishing a settlement on that land was struck down by the High Court of Justice in 1979. The court said that a settlement could not be built on private land expropriated for military needs.

The outpost's heads, Omer and Naama Atidiya, last year.Credit: Alex Levac

According to the state’s response, submitted earlier this month, the outpost’s first structures were built in 2004 and the Civil Administration’s inspection unit subsequently issued a stop-work and demolition order. Now, the state told the court, there are 27 structures in the outpost, some as residences and some for agricultural purposes.

According to the state, in 2008, an agreement was signed between Yitav, the WZO and the residents of the outpost that an agricultural project could be established there, but no structures could be built. The agreement states that construction of buildings would require authorization by the Civil Administration.

The state also told the court that on April 25, the Defense Ministry instructed that plans be made to legalize the status of the outpost. As part of that work, the Civil Administration was told to see where the boundaries were of the army’s use of the land and the feasibility of legalizing the status of the outpost. Thus, the state argued, the petition against the outpost should be denied and the demolition and stop-work orders should not be enforced. Jabarin, the petitioners’ attorney, told the court that not only is the outpost illegal, it has taken over land beyond the boundaries of the land designated for military use.

It was recently reported that the heritage association of the Israel Defense Forces’ Haruv reconnaissance unit intends to establish a memorial park on the site of the outpost. The Civil Administration told Haaretz that it had received no request for a permit to establish the park.

The heritage association told Haaretz that fundraising is still underway. Recent preparation work to plant trees near the outpost was halted by the police.

At the beginning of the month, the head of the outpost, Omer Atidia, asked to be recognized as a party to the hearing of the petition. Atidia explained in his request that the outpost is a separate organization from the settlement of Yitav, and thus should have been party to the petition from the outset.

The Civil Administration responded that “preparatory work is advancing according to the directives of political officials.”

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