Palestinians Claim Land Directly Where Illegal Israeli Outpost Would Be Moved To

Relocating the West Bank settlement of Amona to 'abandoned' Palestinian land contrary to international law, claims state.

The settlement outpost of Amona and the Palestinian village of Silwad in the background, West Bank, November 16, 2016.
Ronen Zvulun, Reuters

Palestinians filed four claims Monday asserting that they own land where Israel wants to temporarily move the unauthorized West Bank Amona outpost. This would leave just two plots at the site where no ownership claims have been made. All told, four claims were made by Palestinians Monday claiming ownership of land in the Amona area.

The new claims filed with the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank follow 29 others that have been filed in recent months for land in the area.

The claims are meant to block the plan to temporarily relocate Amona northward, based on the grounds that at the land is property abandoned by Palestinians. The High Court of Justice has said Amona must be evacuated by December 25.

“The plots that the state is trying to declare abandoned property are private land with owners who are known,” the Yesh Din rights group said in a statement, saying the plan was contrary to international law. The group said it hoped “that now there will be an end to attempts to bypass the ruling by the High Court of Justice.”

The West Bank town Silwad was one of the claimants Monday. Yesh Din attorney Shlomi Zrahia said in a claim the Palestinian owners were probably no longer in the area, but this did not matter.

“Even if the matter were in the authority of the military commander the very location of the new settlement in the heart of Palestinian-owned agricultural land would by necessity adversely affect those landowners,” Zrahia wrote.

According to Zrahia, the claimants were only able to review the plan Saturday night. They say the existing plan is flawed, mainly because it does not discuss plans for roads.

“The plan does not detail the access road to the area,” the claim states. “As much as the plan pretends to rely on the existing access road, that road was paved illegally and has been ordered demolished by the court, and it certainly cannot be counted on as a basis for reaching the area.”

According to the claim, “The road to the two sections designated for residential areas relies on roads that were meant for agricultural needs and not for modern transportation.”

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit supports relocating Amona to the land to the north. According to the plan, outpost residents will receive a temporary permit to live on the plots. They will be able to renew the permits every three years as long as no one makes a credible ownership claim.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Mendelblit changed his position under pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Previously he had said he would only make a decision after examining all the ownership claims filed.