Israeli Right-wing Lawmakers Laud Court for Endorsing Legalized Outposts

Justice minister welcomes the decision, saying the 'wrong done' with the evacuation of previous settlements 'shall not recur.' Right-wing MK said the court 'saved homes and entire settlements'

The Mitzpeh Kramim settlement, 2012
Michal Fattal

Knesset members and ministers on the right of Israel’s political map applauded the Jerusalem court ruling on Tuesday that determined that an illegally-built outpost may be legalized if the land on which it was built was expropriated from its Palestinian owners in good faith.

With its ruling, the Jerusalem District Court effectively paved the way for the legalization of the West Bank outpost Mitzpeh Kramim, a settlement northeast of Jerusalem.

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Knesset member Nissan Slomiansky of Habayit Hayehudi party also refered to the "importance of" recent legislation that limits the High Court of Justice's authority to hear petitions filed by Palestinians in the West Bank. The law is meant to hamper Palestinian petitions against Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and transfers administrative petitions to the Jerusalem District Court instead.

“The High Court holds its discussions according to ‘sworn statements,’ and therefore regrettably it is easy for left-wing organizations and residents to fool it,” said Slomiansky, who also chairs the Knesse's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. “The district court elucidates the facts and requires proofs from the petitioners, which they don’t usually have. That is why the law we passed is so important – transferring a very great many powers from the High Court to the Jerusalem District Court.”

Slomiansky praised the District Court for "applying a section of law that the High Court didn’t want to, thereby saving homes and entire settlements." He added that he hopes it’s a harbinger of many legalized settlements and neighborhoods to come.

Knesset speaker Yuli Edenstein seconded him, saying, “The determination and strong spirit of the people of Mitzpeh Kramim proved themselves. I welcome this just, requisite ruling from the District Court in Jerusalem. We will continue to strengthen settlement in Israel!”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Tuesday evening that "the District Court had spoken clearly: Anybody who settled with the permission of the state and in good faith shall not be evicted. The wrong done with the evacuation of Amona and Netiv Ha'avot shall not recur.” She added that “the court should not be a party to an argument between the left and the right. The decision belongs to the voting booth.”

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said Tuesday: "This is a blessed month of settlement, and after the decision of the Housing Cabinet to establish three new towns [in the Negev], comes the court's decision regarding Mitzpeh Kramim. Such significant decisions strengthen and expand the settlement of the Land of Israel."

Mitzpeh Kramim was built in 1999, near the settlement of Kochav Hashahar northeast of Jerusalem, on six plots of land: Five are privately owned and one is state land. The government allocated the land in the 1980s to the World Zionist Organization.

According to Israel’s Civil Administration, the government did not know at the time that the land was privately owned because of confusion in the mapping of the area, and now admits that the land should not have been allocated to the settlement. In 2011, Palestinians petitioned the High Court of Justice asking to revoke the master plan for Mitzpeh Kramim and prevent any further building.