Israeli Land Grabs Benefit Palestinians, State Tells High Court

Landowners from Anata are demanding the state cancel order expropriating their lands for Ma'aleh Adumim, but the state says residents benefit from order by finding work in settlement's industrial zones.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Palestinian schoolgirls walk with a donkey as the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, is seen in the background November 13, 2013.
Palestinian schoolgirls walk past the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, November 2013.Credit: Reuters
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Palestinians benefit from settlements expropriating their lands because they find employment in industrial zones set up by the Israeli settlers, the state said in its response to a High Court of Justice petition filed by a Palestinian village against the expropriation of its territory by a nearby settlement.

This coming Thursday, the High Court of Justice will decide in the case of the petition of landowners from Anata that was submitted by Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights attorney Shlomi Zacharia a year ago. The petition requests the cancellation of a 1975 order to expropriate territories from Palestinians, in order to build the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim.

The expropriation includes about 30,000 dunams, on part of which the settlement was in fact built, but parts of which remained undeveloped. Some of the land was appended to the settlement of Kfar Adumim, some was transferred to the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division, which allocated it for Jewish agriculture. In spite of that, it is still being held by military authorities in the territories.

Expropriation of land as in the case of Ma'ale Adumim is rare in the history of the settlements. At first the settlements were built on land seized for "military purposes." After this practice was invalidated in the High Court in 1979, settlements were built on abandoned land that was declared state land.

In the territories they did not use make use of expropriation because according to the legal precedent set down by attorney Plia Albeck, land seizure must be for public purposes and not for residential building. In addition, "public needs" must serve the Palestinians as well. So that land cannot be expropriated for a road or a sewage purification facility if it does not serve both populations.

In the state's reply, which was submitted by attorney Netta Oron of the State Prosecution Office High Court division, it was claimed that the expropriation has "fulfilled its objectives" and therefore the land should not be returned to its owners. One of Oron's argument is that both populations benefit from the expropriation.

"About 194 Palestinian workers are employed in the Ma'ale Adumim area and about 2,800 are employed in the Ma'aleh Adumim industrial zone in industry, services and construction," it was claimed. The state also claims that it did not implement the entire construction plan due to illegal infiltrations of these areas, which are difficult to evacuate.

"At issue is widespread Bedouin settlement that is located in the northern part of the confiscated area near the plots mentioned in the petition The establishment in recent years of Bedouin families in the area, which are hard to evacuate, has made it difficult to implement the planning potential of the settlements of Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim, and constitutes an important indication that the respondents have not abandoned implementation of the expropriation," according to the state.

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