Israel Weighs Confiscation of More Palestinian Land

State considers turning site to a sewage treatment plant that will serve settlements and Palestinians.

The government is considering confiscating privately-owned Palestinian land near the West Bank settlement of Ofra, contrary to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge during his Bar-Ilan speech not to take such actions.

This announcement was made by the state prosecutor, in response to a High Court petition filed by a resident of the West Bank town Ein Yabrud and the human rights association Yesh Din.

The parties were seeking the demolition of a sewage treatment plant built illegally on the town's land by the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council.

The announcement, signed by senior assistant state prosecutor Avi Licht, says the state is considering turning the site into a regional sewage treatment plant that would serve both Ofra and the nearby Palestinian communities.

"Assuming the project can be advanced, the legality of confiscating the land will be examined," the document says.

"It would be unthinkable to erect the plant on private Palestinian land without permission or an official confiscation order, and without the legally required plan and building permits. This is why a demolition order has been issued for the existing structure," Licht writes.

Legally, and in keeping with Supreme Court rulings, the Palestinian communities must be connected to the plant. The court has ruled that the state cannot confiscate land unless it will serve the entire public, including those whose lands have been confiscated.

However, connecting Ein Yabrud to the plant requires a pumping facility, which would cost millions of shekels to build.

"After the legal picture was clarified and a demolition order was issued for the facility, an order was given to suspend state funds to the plant, and it has not received a permit to connect it to the power supply. The sewage treatment plant was initiated by the Shomron Union for Ecology and the Environment Ministry, after the settlement's sewage polluted the environment and endangered groundwater sources," the announcement says.